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.
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.
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.
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.
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: