Disaster Prep For The Rest Of Us

by Dave Robinson

Dave Robinson

Originally published August 22, 2013

Community Emergency Response Team, commonly referred to as C.E.R.T, refers to a cadre of volunteers who have spent time equipping themselves to respond in a disaster. The professional emergency responders know they will be completely overwhelmed when an earthquake or other disaster strikes the region. Having a volunteer group on call who has already been through “basic training” and possesses certain basic equipment will be a lifesaver during the time of crisis.

If this interests you, and you want to be listed in the asset column in your community then now’s your chance. Signing up for C.E.R.T. training includes classes on First Aid, Triage,

Light Search and Rescue, the proper use of a fire extinguisher among other related topics. In most communities, only C.E.R.T. personnel are allowed in the operational areas to assist in time of disaster. Well-meaning, untrained volunteers are often considered obstacles to the mission at hand, in other words, liabilities.

Most C.E.R.T. training sessions involve a long, intensive marathon weekend which is a little like trying to drink from a firehose. The way this class is structured the student gets a chance to absorb and process each topic from week to week, and still keep all your weekends free.

Additionally a new app for your smartphone is on the way. Called CERTify, the app enables CERT coordinators to send messages and assignments to team members during an emergency situation. It also enables decision-makers to keep a closer eye on volunteers’ safety and rescue credentials. The app was developed as part of a contest to create applications for various public safety issues. Available later this year, the app will allow C.E.R.T. members to be to able update their training profile and also notify the disaster coordinator or Incident Command personnel upon completion of assigned tasks.

One future enhancement in the works is the app will allow users access to an emergency communications channel that could be utilized if the cellular network was down.

The subjects covered in C.E.R.T. classes are topics with which everyone should be familiar. You really should have some knowledge of basic first aid. You should know how to conduct a search in your neighborhood. The first time you look at your fire extinguisher should not be when the flames are licking at your neighbor’s curtains.

As always send your comments and questions to disasterprep.dave@gmail.com.

Note: Dave Robinson is Bandon's Postmaster and has worked for the postal service for 30 years. He has a background in law enforcement, served in the Air Force in Vietnam, worked nine years for the Coos County Sheriff's Department, and serves on the Myrtle Point School Board, where he lives.

additional columns by Dave Robinson