Several years ago I joined my local community’s CERT. If you haven’t heard about CERT, it’s FEMA’s affiliated volunteer Community Emergency Response Team. CERT teams are found all over the U.S. and similar programs have been copied even in China. Any regular citizen can join and get certified. Where I live in Huntington Beach, California, the CERT program is run by the fire department. They occasionally activate the team for anything from running sandbag programs during flooding incidents to operating first aid booths at the U.S. Open Surfing competition. Generally, CERT training consists of 20 hours and covers everything from emergency first aid, to light search and rescue in buildings, to operating in a Emergency Operation Center. Even if you don’t have time to join your local CERT team, becoming trained will teach you useful skills like how to triage and provide lifesaving skills for your family. In the days and maybe weeks to come after a major disaster, expect that NO ONE is coming to save you. When the hospitals are full, emergency services overwhelmed, and the shelves at the grocery store are empty, it’s all up to you!
I’ve been CERT trained for about 10 years now, but decided that it might be a good idea to help keep my skills up by becoming a CERT instructor. A few weeks ago, I finished the 3 day course to teach the CERT program. I have to say probably my favorite part was relearning how to mark someone’s door frame after a building search. You can look up the symbols online, but with some spray paint I can tell other emergency responders how many dead people or survivors I found inside a building, what hazards to watch out for and when I was there. It’s like tagging a house with graffiti, but for a legit purpose. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m quite a prepper when it comes to disasters. Among many things like an AED, oxygen tank, and a water storage bag for the bathtub, I also have a body bag. Maybe not fun to think about, but hey, the next door neighbor may not smell so good after an earthquake and a few days with no one to take them. And with that PSA tip… go join CERT!