Are you prepared for a disaster? I wasn’t but now that I have graduated from a free Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training program, I know what to do and more importantly, what not to do, if faced with an emergency.
Disaster preparation for your family
The first part of training focused on preparing our family for possible disasters. We were asked questions like:
- If there is a fire, does everyone in your family know where to meet?
- If our home looses power and heat, how will we take care of ourselves and our pets (water, food, heat, light, communication, etc.)?
- What should we keep in our cars to be prepared for being stranded (like the ice-bound Atlanta folks)?
I was fairly prepared, but now I have hand crank flashlights in my home and car. My hand crank lantern also has a radio and an outlet for charging items like a cell phone, but I am mindful that cell phones often do not work during disasters. As a resident of Savannah, Georgia, I feel less threatened by snow and ice and more threatened by hurricanes, wind and flooding.
Helping neighbors and first responders during a disaster
The second part of the training was how to help first responders after a major disaster. They may not be able to meet the demand for services due to the number of victims, communication problems and road blockages. In those cases, people will have to rely on each other.
According to the CERT website, “This was the case following the Mexico City earthquake where untrained, spontaneous volunteers saved 800 people. However, 100 people lost their lives while attempting to save others. This is a high price to pay and is preventable through training.”
Community Emergency Response Team training
The most important message conveyed during our training was “Your No. 1 priority is to keep yourself safe.” Period. If you do not feel prepared or safe doing something, do not do it. That is a nice way of saying don’t get hurt and add to the demand for limited resources.
We also learned about:
- Hazards people may face during a disaster.
- Safety equipment (gloves, goggles, mask) and disaster supplies (bandages, flashlight, dressings) to have on hand.
- How to assess a fire, fire suppression strategies and how to use a fire extinguishers.
- How to diagnose and treat airway obstruction, bleeding and shock by using simple triage and rapid treatment techniques.
- How to evaluate patients by doing a head to toe assessment, establishing a medical treatment area, performing basic first aid and practicing in a safe and sanitary manner.
- Search and rescue planning and techniques.
- How a disaster may mentally affect victims and rescue workers and what to do about it.
- CERT organization, management principles and documentation.
Contact your local CERT organization for a schedule of local training programs.
If you can’t make it to a training course, check out this Red Cross information about: