I recent­ly com­plet­ed my Com­mu­ni­ty Emer­gency Response Team (CERT) train­ing. First some back­ground and then an eval­u­a­tion from a prep­per per­spec­tive.

CERT’s were formed in the wake of the Sep­tem­ber 11th attacks via exec­u­tive order. The train­ing agen­da was adapt­ed from mate­r­i­al devel­oped by the Los Ange­les Fire Depart­ment in 1985. The Emer­gency Man­age­ment Insti­tute (EMI) expand­ed the CERT mate­ri­als in 1994 via an all haz­ards approach. As stat­ed in the intro­duc­to­ry mate­r­i­al:

“CERT train­ing is designed to pre­pare you to help your­self, your fam­i­ly, and your neigh­bors in the event of a cat­a­stroph­ic dis­as­ter. Because emer­gency ser­vice per­son­nel will not be able to help every­one imme­di­ate­ly, you can make a dif­fer­ence by using the training…to save lives and pro­tect prop­er­ty.

This train­ing cov­ers the basic skills that are impor­tant to know in a dis­as­ter when emer­gency ser­vices are not avail­able. With train­ing and prac­tice and by work­ing as a team, you will be able to do the great­est good for the great­est num­ber of vic­tims after a dis­as­ter, while pro­tect­ing your­self from becom­ing a vic­tim.”

As the above is the stat­ed goal, the course accom­plished the mis­sion. Even this ref­er­ence mate­r­i­al is fair­ly decent basic infor­ma­tion for the unpre­pared. How­ev­er, I think we need to be real­is­tic. Train­ing some­one with a prep­per mind­set is going to be vast­ly dif­fer­ent than train­ing your aver­age Amer­i­can who is most­ly unpre­pared.

The course was designed for:

1) Some­one with no emer­gency man­age­ment expe­ri­ence.
2) Some­one who has had no expo­sure to haz­ardous mate­ri­als and their char­ac­ter­is­tics.
3) Some­one who has nev­er used a fire extin­guish­er.
4) Some­one who has a high tol­er­ance for death-by-Pow­er­Point.

In oth­er words, if you are new to the prep­per world and just land­ed in the com­mu­ni­ty, you get some basic (very basic) intro­duc­to­ry emer­gency pre­pared­ness skills. Oth­er­wise, the only val­ue I extract­ed from the train­ing was some basic search and res­cue pro­to­cols and some insight into my region’s emer­gency man­age­ment infra­struc­ture. At the end of the day, the best a CERT mem­ber can hope for is a chance to bring a fire­man water, answer phones at an Inci­dent Com­mand Cen­ter or direct traf­fic. I guess if there was a huge inci­dent like a hur­ri­cane strike or a mas­sive tor­na­do, there might be a big­ger role for the CERT teams. Oth­er­wise, I just can­not see the rudi­men­ta­ry train­ing being any­thing more than an intro­duc­tion to Emer­gency Pre­pared­ness for the ordi­nary cit­i­zen.

At the end of the day, each prep­per must decide if 16 — 24 hours of time is worth the basic infor­ma­tion. For me, it was a learn­ing expe­ri­ence and also gave me the oppor­tu­ni­ty to get an inside, if only intro­duc­to­ry, look at what resources might be avail­able should my com­mu­ni­ty have a major prob­lem. Would I rec­om­mend CERT train­ing? Yes, if only to get that ID badge which might ben­e­fit my fam­i­ly and me if there is a dis­as­ter. That is the bot­tom line.

One last thought. It is explic­it­ly stat­ed that the com­mu­ni­ty may be on their own: “Fol­low­ing a dis­as­ter, com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers may be on their own for a peri­od of time because of the size of the area affect­ed, lost com­mu­ni­ca­tions, and impass­able roads.” This under­scores my mot­to: Prep­ping Means Resilien­cy, Redun­dan­cy and Sur­viv­abil­i­ty.


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