CERT Class

Citizen Emergency Response Team (CERT)

CERT is a wonderful program that helps you learn how to protect your family and your neighbors in the event of an emergency. I took a CERT class at James Madison University this spring. It was 7 classes that were 2 hours each. This was a very basic class so it did not go in depth on first-aid and skills like that. Instead we focused on disaster preparedness and how we can help if emergency services were not able to get to you in a major event.

One way to help in a large-scale disaster is to quickly triage and categorize those who are injured. That way when emergency personnel can get there, they know who needs immediate attention and those who can maybe ride in a bus to the hospital and get treated when they get there.

Though it’s not all about major disasters, we learned a little bit of first-aid. Hopefully, enough of it to know where to put pressure if someone is bleeding or know how to treat shock or splint an arm. A great addition to CERT is taking Red Cross First-Aid and CPR classes. That way you will be more prepared.

Disaster Psychology was an interesting class. Two JMU professors helped us that day and they have traveled all over the world helping people after earthquakes, tsunamis, tordanos, you name it. The biggest thing is to not assume they are emotionally broken. People are resilient and can withstand more than we think they can. Offer to help and give guidance if need, but don’t do things for them unless they are okay with it.

We also talked about fire safety and hazmat scenarios. The basics are to change your smoke alarm batteries when you change your clocks for daylight savings time, and learn how to operate a fire extinguisher. Also, know which extinguisher you should have in the kitchen, and know not to use water on a grease fire–that’s a big one.  With chemicals it’s pretty simple, don’t mix things if you don’t know how they will react to each other. If you do have a chemical burn, rinse and rinse some more. The poison control number is one you should have written down on the fridge, programmed in your phone, or memorized. Here it is 1-800-222-1222.

For emergency preparedness, a huge thing is to have a kit ready to go in case you are stuck in your house or you have to evacuate. Here’s FEMA’s recommendations. If you have pets, make a kit for them too. See what the ASPCA thinks you should have in your pet’s kit. And FEMA has other information relating to your pets.

Just remember to think about every member of your family and their needs. There are great resources out there to help you prepare and so much of the country including the Shenandoah Valley is getting hit with weather they aren’t used to. Everyone should have a kit.

Find your nearest CERT. If you want specific information about how CERT came to be, check out their website.

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