Downey CERT teams: preparing for emergencies, one resident at a time

Downey Fire and Police Department personnel prepare for all types of emergencies. Whether it's a non-emergency, public assistance response or a large scale fire response involving hazardous materials and the utilization of many local and outside resources all incidents demand proper staffing, specialized training and organizational skills.However, during a disaster, the number and scope of incidents can overwhelm conventional emergency services. There are simply not enough emergency resources available to mitigate all of the problems that may be caused by a serious earthquake or other large scale disaster. The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program was created by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to help fill the immediate needs a community experiences when a disaster strikes. Several years ago specially trained Downey firefighters began teaching the CERT curriculum to interested members of the community. Since that time, more than 200 Downey community members have learned the essentials of basic emergency operations through this training. The Downey Fire Department is again offering a free CERT training course starting Saturday, May 30 and continuing on June 6th and 13th. The three Saturdays of training (24 hours total) conclude with the presentation of a FEMA CERT certification. Classes start each Saturday at 8 a.m. The CERT program is an all-risk, all-hazard training program designed for residents and business members. This valuable program is designed to develop the physical and mental skills necessary for self-protection and to assist families, neighbors and neighborhoods in an emergency situation. CERT is a positive and realistic approach to emergency and disaster situations where citizens may initially be on their own and faced with an emergency situation. Trained citizens can take actions that will make a difference. It is true, untrained people will volunteer to help others, despite the dangers. However, one goal of the CERT program is for graduates of the program to respond effectively and efficiently without placing themselves in unnecessary danger. In the CERT training, citizens learn to: •manage power and water utilities •put out small fires, •treat the three medical killers by opening airways, controlling bleeding, and treating for shock, •provide basic medical aid, •search for and rescue victims safely, •organize themselves and spontaneous volunteers to be effective, •collect disaster intelligence to support first responder efforts. The CERT team meets the third Tuesday of each month at the headquarters fire station at 12222 Paramount Blvd. The meetings consist of a segment of related continuing education and an open meeting reviewing and planning for program offerings such as expanded training and community education. CERT members will soon be providing limited neighborhood operational training to community groups. Past CERT graduates are encouraged to contact the Fire Department if they have not been involved in the program recently. Several Downey CERT team members have continued with their training and volunteered for assignments with the Red Cross to disasters across the country. To sign up for the upcoming Downey CERT training class, contact the Downey Fire Department at (562) 904-7345.

********** Published: May 15, 2009 - Volume 8 - Issue 4