CERT Training – Day 3 Adventures

CERT-Day3-01

Who’s ready to save lives? Me – that’s who.

In our last CERT posts we introduced Simple Triage and Rapid Treatment techniques and put additional skills to the test using live scenarios. We’re back now in our third and final post related to CERT and we mean business. It could be the difference between life and death after all. Our last adventure involves a simulated disaster including real people, abandoned buildings, and even fake blood.

CERT-Day3-02

That ladies and gentlemen, on our very own Timm Lovitt, is the look of extreme confidence.

Immediately upon arrival folks began volunteering for predefined roles. We needed to, as quickly as possible, establish who was in charge of the overall operation, who focused on leading the building entry team, who transported and designated survivors to coded triage zones, and who provided basic medical care and support. Chaos as it turns out, is easier to manage if your head is focused on a very specific role.

Before assessing the building, the entry team marked the exterior (a single slash mark) with date and time of entry and task force identification. In the worst possible scenario, the event that something went wrong inside and the team never made it out, others would know who was still inside.

CERT-Day3-03

Chernenko saving lives and keeping our survivor calm.

That same team strategically mapped the building and began their initial sweep. They looked for live wires (the potential that electricity was not turned off), fire, hanging and fallen debris, and people still in the building. When encountering survivors or victims they quickly noted whether the individual was red, yellow, or green (triage evaluation to determine if someone is breathing, aware, and/or injured) and then exited the building. Their initial task was not rescue, but focused on rapid assessment. Upon exit they also updated their initial marking with a second slash (to signify exiting), potential hazards, and total numbers of victims still inside the structure.

CERT-Day3-04

Yes we did! We came. We saw. We responded.

With initial assessment complete, they paved the way for medical response and transportation of survivors to predefined medical response zones (coded red and yellow tarps outside of the building). Interacting with victims however is the part of response that challenges folks the most. You have a specific role and duties to complete…while trying to calm a mother who wants you to care for her daughter, a coworker who can’t find his colleague, and (fake) blood running down body parts. Deep breath. You can do this.

CERT-Day3-05

I am forever changed by CERT. As proof, I welcome the first fire extinguisher to our home.

In the end we successfully responded to this disaster simulation as a cohesive team. We assessed the building, provided simple triage, transported everyone outside, and cared for all survivors that we could (not everyone made it out alive due to their injuries – not my fault).

Through this process and training I also changed. I now take disasters more seriously (by that I mean my prior knowledge was via movies like The Day After Tomorrow, 2012, and most recently San Andreas) and am confident in my ability to do more than call 9-1-1 and hope for the best (something we learned may not even be an option in the event of a real disaster). Since the training I’ve also beefed up my home preparedness through the purchase of first aid kits (one for the house and one for the vehicle), extra batteries and flashlights, fire extinguishers, and even emergency water packets. My son now thinks I’m the coolest dad on the block as well (an added bonus).

Interested in more training:

Advertisements

CERT Training – Day 2 Adventures

City of Auburn...Prepare to be Saved.

City of Auburn…Prepare to be Saved.

It’s day 2 of our CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) training! We officially survived the SMART (Simple Triage And Rapid Treatment) techniques of day 1 (no stuffed animal died on our watch) and now it’s time to put us into real scenarios. Now…it should be said that graduating from stuffed animals to live humans is one MAJOR step. Humans naturally feel, react, and can even go into shock in the middle of a disaster situation. Adding the human element (aka disaster psychology) definitely takes our training to the next level.  We can do this GRC team!

David reluctantly volunteers to get carried down the stairs.

David reluctantly volunteers to get carried down the stairs.

The first part of our morning consisted of holding, rolling, wrapping, lifting, and carrying just about every single participant up, down, and around obstacles. This may sound like an extremely simple exercise, but it tested our physical ability, team coordination, and basic interactions with “survivors” of varying degrees of personal space. Trust me…you don’t really get to know your coworkers and colleagues until you’ve carried them down a few flights of stairs.

Here we practice a variety of debris removal, heavy lifting techniques, and team-based cribbing.

Here we practice a variety of debris removal, heavy lifting techniques, and team-based cribbing.

Our next hands-on learning experience related to light search and rescue operations, with the overall goals of rescuing the greatest number in the shortest amount of time. When assessing situations (environments, buildings, electricity, etc.) the safety of those performing the search should always be considered. If it’s not safe to enter a burning building, even when you can hear potential survivors screaming for help, you simply don’t enter. Safety first.

Fire extinguisher training was one of the funnest exercises performed!

Pull, Aim, Squeeze, Sweep (PASS). We got this.

By the time afternoon came, everyone was ready for fire extinguisher training by putting out actual fires. Did you know that fire extinguishers are designed for specific types of fires? For example, extinguishers designed for ordinary combustibles wouldn’t necessarily work in putting out a metal, cooking oil, or electrical fire. In our exercises we used carbon dioxide models that left no residue (unlike dry chemical models that leave a white powder to clean up).

It's takes a lot of work to look this prepared.

It’s takes a lot of work to look this prepared.

After a very intense, physically exhausting day carrying victims, removing debris, and putting out real fires, we were all ready to go back to our desk jobs (well almost – there’s still one more day left after all). The last and final day of training would see all of these skills put to use in a simulated disaster including real people, abandoned buildings, and lots of fake blood. Stay tuned for more details in our next blog post!

Links of Interest

CERT Training – Day 1 Adventures

Ready for CERT Training!

Ready for the next 24 hours (3 days) of CERT Training!

My first question when told I’d be participating in an upcoming CERT training was, “What’s a CERT?” As it turns out CERT stands for Community Emergency Response Team and helps prepare everyday citizens with basic disaster response skills that can be applied back to their communities and workplaces. We also get to use fire extinguishers, perform light search and rescue, and dress wounds. Sign me up!

CERT-Day1-01

Tim and Chernenko telling everyone about GRC and our EOC efforts.

As we began our first day (of three total days) it was immediately apparent that this was a community effort. The City of Auburn, led by the Auburn Emergency Management Department, began this initiative in 2006 and has trained close to 700 people to date. We were part of class #38 and were surrounded by concerned citizens, local volunteers, and individuals from the same communities. These very people, in case of an actual disaster, would be the ones others would look towards for support, guidance, and organization. That’s a very real and serious responsibility and one that ultimately makes for better prepared communities and workplaces throughout the city of Auburn.

CERT-Day1-02

Emergency…call 911. Disaster…call us (after we finish training though).

The first rule of CERT training is knowing how to distinguish between an emergency and a disaster. The short version is that an emergency is something you’d call 911 for and get immediate help. A disaster on the other is something that would overrun local resources. Essentially, you’d be on your own for multiple days without someone coming to rescue you. Immediately my thoughts turned to the number of water bottles, location of flashlights, and canned food I had in my own home. What if that disaster occurred while I was at work? Did you know that Green River College is a designated safety location in the event that Mount Rainier were to erupt?

CERT-Day1-03

First test: Can you remove a set of gloves without spilling a drop. Tim already failed (look at his pants).

Once everyone was briefed on the unique role CERT volunteers play, the types of disasters we were training for, and where our roles ended, we were ready for some hands-on learning activities. We learned how to safely approach victims (or survivors depending on how you look at things), conduct head-to-toe assessments, and treat a variety of burns, wounds, and fractures. This of course involved each of us spending some time on the ground playing a variety of roles.

CERT-Day1-04

David getting rescued on day 1. He’s lucky we were so close by.

Seeing your coworkers play the part of victim/survivor prepared us for our next role of rapid assessment. We were given a variety of stuffed animals and asked to very quickly perform simple triage and rapid treatment (START). Little did we know that these stuffed animals were to play a major role in our next few days…more on that though in our next post. Stay tuned!

CERT-Day1-05

No animals were hurt in the performance of our training exercise.

Links of Interest

Building Captains – Upcoming Training

CPR

Building captains across campus have an important role. They serve as the go-to person in the event of a campus emergency and help ensure the general safety of people within their respective buildings. If you haven’t already…please hug your building captain.

In a combined effort to strengthen the communication, training, and cross-campus collaboration, Valley Regional Fire District will be providing extensive training on both the 18th and 20th of this month. This training will provide all Green River College Building Captains with foundational knowledge and competencies in:

  • CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation)
  • First aid
  • AED (Automated External Defibrillators)
  • Bloodborne pathogens
Ron-Steve-Zack

Meeting to plan Building Captain training. Also, Steve and Zack match outfits!

In addition to these scheduled training events, future training will follow. Work is also being done to standardize contents of emergency backpacks and create a reference book for all captains. We look forward to establishing an ongoing community amongst building captains and providing meetups on a more frequent basis. Until then, we look forward to seeing and learning from each other at our first training event on the 18th!

Coffee Break & Emergency Preparedness Training

What better way to get an update on campus emergency preparedness, then to share a cup of coffee with Timm Lovitt, Interim Dean of Student Success and Retention. A side note is that Timm is openly willing to exchange a cup of coffee for future favors down the road. While I may have just committed to something I can’t even imagine yet…it sure was a great cup of coffee.

Coffee Stand

The best coffee stand on campus!

What brought Timm and I together, besides love of coffee of course, was a training initiative he is leading the charge on. Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training is something that has never existed on our campus. Timm is very optimistic and eager to establish the “best CERT program there is.” He’s researched CERT at local and national levels, made recommendations to the campus Emergency Operations Committee (EOC), and initiated contact with the City of Auburn’s CERT program. The desired outcome will be our own CERT program, working with and supporting the campus EOC. Because these volunteers will be trained in many different avenues related to emergency response, the campus as a whole would be better prepared in dealing with emergent situations.

Coffee Break

Timm in deep thought as I ask CERT-related questions.

After Timm explained all that he was doing related to CERT, he also mentioned (so quickly in fact that I almost missed it) that he was the Director of Veteran Services as well as the Interim Dean of Student Success. Because I’m so new to Green River and this was my first time meeting Timm, I had now idea about his military background. As it turns out he spent five years in the Army (Go Army!) and says it helped him prepare to react to stressful situations and lead others to succeed. I then jokingly asked if working at Green River classified as a stressful situation…but Timm didn’t laugh.  ;)

Veterans Services

I even got a tour of the Veterans Services Office and met a vet who was in the process of transferring to a University.

Below is the actual message Timm created to collaborate and communicate awareness of upcoming CERT training. Stay tuned for more great CERT-related updates through our official college channels.

Over the past couple of months we’ve received a lot of inquiries from students, staff, and faculty about wanting to get involved in the college’s disaster response plan. Many individuals have expressed an interest in helping the campus remain resilient, especially during times of critical need. We have been overwhelmed by the sense of community and volunteerism and admire everyone who has stepped forward to ask “what can I do to help?” In response to your requests, here is one way that you might be able to be involved:

The Emergency Operations Center (EOC) is looking to build a pool of certified disaster preparedness volunteers. These volunteers may serve in various roles and capacities, when professional responders are not immediately available, and will regularly interact with a designated college point-of-contact (Timm Lovitt, Interim Dean of Student Success and Retention). Some of the roles could include fire safety, light search and rescue, and/or team organization.

If you are interested in volunteering we encourage you to seek out an official training program. One program that is local is the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). CERT is a federal program that educates people about disaster preparedness. The program includes instruction on basic disaster response, fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization and disaster medical operations. Participants will receive a certification at the end of their course.

The City of Auburn’s Emergency Management Office offers several CERT courses each year. These classes are free of charge, but do require prior registration (space is limited). To register for this program please visit the City of Auburn’s Emergency Management Training webpage.

2015 CERT Offerings:

  • March 2nd to 25th (9:00 am to Noon every Monday and Wednesday)
  • April 2nd to May 9th (6:30 to 9:30 pm every Thursday)
  • August 18th to 20th (8:00 am to 5:00 pm, three full days)
  • October 6th to November 14th (6:30 to 9:30 pm every Tuesday)

Thank you for your time and interest!

Timm Lovitt,
Interim Dean of Student Success and Retention