Mill Valley Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) volunteers, along with Police and Fire representatives, opted to use the ShakeOut last Thursday, as the perfect opportunity for preparation training.
In the event that there had been a real disaster, more than 250-trained locals would deployed, acting as liaisons between the public and Mill Valley Fire and Police.
Since 1997, residents of Marin County have had to opportunity to formally join forces with Marin Fire Agency personnel under the federal CERT training program, designed to emphasize hands-on experience to achieve higher level of skills in emergency preparedness, disaster first aid/triage, fire prevention/suppression, light search and rescue, and more.
“These trained residents work hand in hand with us,” explained Mill Valley Police Sgt. Michael Lane, “In a disaster, man power is important. These volunteers really make our life easier because they know their neighborhoods like the back of their hand, much better than outside responding agencies will.”
“Police and fire will be busy with their own incident commands,” CERT Leader Leo Coppeta said, “We will support their activities and let residents know where to go, what to do, and what to expect.”
He explained that CERT members will often help with evacuations if the phone systems were down, check structural integrity, direct traffic, and they're considered the first line of defense to calm people down.
Mill Valley CERT is always recruiting locals who would like to get involved.
“There’s a job for everyone —young, old, big, small— and any desired level of training and commitment,” he said, “there are advanced classes available to those who want to increase their training levels.”
Thankfully, there has not been a natural disaster that required local deployment, so the crews host regular trainings, with hopes that in a real event, they’ll be better able to settle in quickly and react automatically.
“It's important to help remind ourselves to be prepared for earthquakes, floods, fires, ect.,” said Coppeta, “By practicing these trainings we can exercise our muscle memory so that in an emergency, we can automatically recall how to react.”
Are you someone who takes action when you see someone in need of help? Do you enjoy contributing to your community? In a large scale disaster, both self-reliance and the use of volunteers under professional guidance will be necessary. The Community Emergency Response Training (CERT) is designed to emphasize hands-on experience and is taught by Fire Department personnel. Topics covered include emergency preparedness disaster first aid/triage and fire prevention utilities and light search and rescue.