Today, you can watch any number of television shows on prepping from Doomsday Preppers to Man vs Wild to Survivor. By watching some of these show, you may develop a false sense of security in that you may think that you are prepared to handle a disaster but nothing will prepare you for a disaster like hands on disaster simulation training. The US Government is offering this very training for free in local communities all across the country. In addition, those who go through the training will be offered the ongoing opportunity to help their community and sharpen their skills by assisting emergency responders with real emergency events.
The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program was first developed by the Los Angeles Fire Department in 1985 as a method of training members of community to become more self-sufficient in the wake of a disaster. In the early 1990s, the Federal Emergency Management Agency expanded the program nationally. Today, most major cities offer CERT training through their local fire, police or emergency management departments.
Disaster Prepping Skill Taught in CERT
CERT training is free to the public but requires registration due a limited number of spots available each session. The training is generally delivered in two and a half hour sessions, one night a week for 7 weeks. The training consists of the following:
- Disaster Preparedness: Participants are given an overview of the probable hazards that the community could face in the future. The training provides participants with instructions on how they should prepare for and respond to a disaster. In addition, the concept and organization of CERT is discussed with the group along with the policies and laws that they must abide by as CERT members.
- Disaster Fire Suppression: This session teaches participants the basics of fire safety and fire suppression. Participants will learn how to best assess a situation, use fire extinguishers safely and how to extinguish small fires.
- Disaster Medical Operations: Two sessions are spent training students on first aid methods in disaster scenarios.
- Search and Rescue Operations: Participants are given an overview of the logistics of search and rescue operations including instruction on formulating plans, utilizing proper techniques and protecting oneself
- Team Organization and Disaster Psychology: In this session, the students are instructed on the organization and management of CERT activities and how to properly record events. Participants are also taught the psychological effects of disasters on both the victims and workers.
- Final Overview and Disaster Simulation: In this final session, participants will review skills they have been taught over the previous sessions then put those skills to the test in a disaster simulation.
Upon the completion of the training, participants are given the option to join a CERT. Regardless of whether or not a participant in the training decides to become a member of a CERT, he/she will emerge from the training with the skills to help their family and community in a disaster. As an incentive for participants to join a CERT, some local agencies provide CERT members with disaster response tool kits as well as CERT uniforms to identify members as emergency responders. CERT members will continue to gain disaster preparation skills by assisting professional responders with incidents and participating in periodic refresher training courses. To learn more about the CERT program check out http://www.citizencorps.gov/cert/.