Saturday, September 02, 2006

CERTs and Other Fun Things

I mentioned a while back that I recently became a trainer for Community Emergency Response Teams (or CERTs). I mention this for a reason.

The other day at work, an associate and I ran a training class on fire extinguisher usage for about 50 people at work. My associate -- also a CERT instructor -- used the PowerPoint presentation from the CERT curriculum.

After we all went outside and "played" (as he put it) for a couple of hours, I handed out course evaluations to the group.

We've already gotten back a couple that ask for the full CERT course to be given at work.

CERT, as you may know, was developed in Los Angeles, about 25 years ago. After one particularly devastating earthquake, the LAFD realized that the first "rescuers" on the scene were those who lived in the neighborhood. LAFD decided to develop and offer a program that would provide these initial responders the training they needed to (a) save lives, (b) protect property, (c) assist their neighborhoods, and (d) stabilize the situation until the professionals arrived, while still protecting the rescuers themselves. The training consists of basic firefighting skills (fire extinguishers), light search and rescue, basic disaster medical (first aid and CPR), triage, psychological response to disasters and sort of introductory terrorism.

The CERT concept has since been expanded into a specialized program for schools (a pilot here in Michigan was quite successful, even beyond the goals established when they set it up); the Federal Department of Homeland Security is also working on modifying the program for the workplace environment. (Pay attention, this may be the only nice thing I ever say about DHS). A CERT program in the workplace makes sense, in that during a major disaster, local emergency services will be overwhelmed (this is also the logic behind the 72-hour kits DHS recommends for the home). Suitably trained volunteer responders in the workplace will help keep their fellow workers safe, care for those who are injured, and also demonstrate the employer's commitment to staff safety. Of course, I suppose having a CERT team in the workplace might also reduce insurance rates somewhat.

Anyway, after I completed the instructor course, my immediate supervisors were a little doubtful about the interest in, or need for, a CERT team at work. Maybe the responses to the extinguisher training program will show the bosses that there is both a need and the interest.

Update, 09-04-06: Added link to CERT website, just in case anyone wants more information on the program.

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