I live in a community of less than 10,000 people in rural Cache Valley on the ID/UT border with volunteer fire and ambulance service. It’s been 8 months now since I joined my local Community Emergency Response Team. Since then:
- I have completed CERT level I training (Taught by my city’s FD battalion commander) and was issued a some basic gear and a photo ID Badge.
- I have attended monthly training at both city and county levels.
- I have participated in joint training exercises with our fire department, ambulance service, neighboring cities and the county.
- I have trained at our county firefighting training facility nicknamed “The Bates Motel” because of it’s realism in training.
- CERT has involved me in the Amateur Radio Emergency Service. I have attended a amateur (HAM) radio class and earned my technician’s license.
- I have been activated 5 times in 8 months — mostly due to flooding.
- I have helped train a class of new recruits.
Volunteer is not necessarily synonymous with unprofessional. I live in a suburban development in a small, rural, predominantly LDS (Mormon) community in a seismically active area, and we don’t have paid emergency services. Needless to say … people here take their CERT pretty seriously. My neighborhood area of 102 homes now has 4 CERT level 1’s, 8 Block Captains and 8 Backup Block Captains. The whole community participates.
CERT teaches that you prepare yourself and your family first, your neighborhood second and then, if things are under control in your neighborhood, you help the community. The first thing you do is get your own home ready. Then you get to the point where you’re ready to deploy to help others. Training to be a first responder and to motivate and organize my community has taken my preparations to a whole new level. You tend to learn a subject more thoroughly knowing you are going to have to teach it to other people.
It is not a bad thing to be the first to know when a disaster happens without being obliged to respond to it. It is good to be on a first name basis with the first responders and have their phone numbers, radio frequencies and radio call signs. It is good to have all a copy of the Amateur Radio Emergency Service’s emergency response plans and frequencies. It’s also nice to have the uniforms, ID and even magnetic car signs to get in and out of disaster areas. You could use this cover to transport your entire family past a roadblock by buying extra uniforms for the adults, hiding the kids (or saying you have to transport them) and flashing your ID … if they even ask. This was a major problem for residents after Hurricane Katrina.
Last but not least, participating in CERT has been fun and it is fulfilling
to volunteer for your community. It feels good to give, to perform service and to know that you are helping your fellow man. The comment was made in an earlier post that a prepper
considered himself a “Man Scout.” Volunteer service in CERT is right along those lines.