Back in August of 2009 I noticed some urgent e-mails from the chairperson of the Colorado North Central Region (NCR) requesting an instructor for a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) class at Denver University (DU) for the month of September. After the third e-mail from other sources in NCR, I threw my hat in the ring and volunteered to help.
My offer was immediately accepted and I was asked if I could recruit other instructors to help if needed (their instructor resources had dried up). I knew that would not be a problem, because at the time, in O.M.E.G.A., we had five other certified instructors besides me.
Since our first class with DU, we have not looked back and we have now completed our eighth CERT class where O.M.E.G.A. has totally facilitated the class instruction. Our source benefactor in arranging and scheduling these classes has been the City and County of Denver.
The City and County of Denver has provided instruction for over 1500 citizens in the CERT curriculum. Whereas O.M.E.G.A. did not teach all 1500, our contribution had a major impact and was appreciated. We enjoy a trusted relationship with the City and County of Denver.
Since June of 2006, O.M.E.G.A. has been teaching CERT as we were given the tasks of organizing and planning full scale exercises for the North Central Region. These exercise allowed graduating CERT alumni to practice and keep current the lessons learned in CERT classes.
One of the areas of challenge we noticed was that the CERT students did not have a clear understanding of the Incident Command System structure (ICS). ICS is a structure that fire departments, law enforcement and other first responders use during a disaster. It was like teaching a foreign language. In each class session we would practice ICS by having the class bring in the instructional equipment, such as the fire extinguishers, for the fire suppression part of the class, or the “CERT IN A BOX” equipment for the medical triage part of the class. By the time of the graduation exercise was scheduled, ICS had started to become less of a mystery.
But CERT is more than just teaching ICS. We cover medical triage and the differences between it and regular first aid and CPR. We cover fire safety and how a CERT member can extinguish small fires.
It is wonderful to have families in the class and teaching all of them how they can move someone as big as dad out of the house, even if he is unconscious. They know they will not make any land speed records, but they also learn that they can do it and more importantly, they can do it without getting anyone hurt.
Or having an 85 year old retired school teacher documenting where each victim is located, so that the rescue team will know where to go. Or documenting who went into a building and where they are at any given point in the rescue. At the end of the class she stopped saying that she was too old because she knew she had a lot to contribute.
If you don’t know what medical triage is, how ICS works or what the “3 killers in a disaster” are, perhaps you should sign up for a CERT class or come to one of our exercises. Don’t know where these classes or exercises are or when? It is really easy to find out! Just click onto our webpage at http://training.omegaresponders.org/.