Saturday, May 2, 2009

Get Disaster Ready

Did you feel the 4.4 earthquake yesterday? A mild swerve, yet a reminder that the Big One is overdue. So be prepared, because the chances are you'll be on your own to deal with its consequences. And that's only earthquakes -- check out L.A's weather for more.
We just came back from a grueling, 9-hour CERT refresher drill at the LA County Fairplex in Pomona. CERT stands for Community Emergency Response Team, a program for community members -- you, us, the average Joe -- originally designed by the LAFD, then implemented nationwide. We had recently completed the CERT Level 1 training (Syllabus here, Class schedule here, Manuals here,) and wanted some practical training. We sure got what we asked for: with 400 enthusiastic CERT volunteers, and fire representatives from all over the County eager to share the knowledge, it was well worth it!
For those concerned about their ability to save their dear ones and neighbors in the event of a big disaster -- when it is well-known that the usual agencies we rely on will be overwhelmed beyond help -- we highly recommend taking the basic training and drill. They give you invaluable, practical info, taught by first responders, on how to prepare for a disaster; make you home safe; and deal with the disaster when it happens -- whether it's fire suppression, assessing building safety, search and rescue, triage of victims, or first aid.
Getting the training will take some of your time (CERT Level 1 classes are 7 x 2.5 hours; drills take up an entire day,) but they are free, and you will get life-or-death do's and don'ts from seasoned pros. If you want to become hardcore CERT, you can pursue to Levels 2 & 3. Level 2 will take an additional 12 hours of your time, with 4, 3-hour free classes taught by the Red Cross on Fulfilling the Mission, Mass Care, and Shelter Management & Operations. Level 3 is not free, but the extra 50 hours of training will take you to EMT level if you fancy it.

After that, the choice is yours: join your local Red Cross, or the CERT team of a fire department close to where you live. Your school, employer or church may also have its own emergency preparedness team. Good luck, and keep safe, L.A.!
photos of the CERT drill LA Frog - more here

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