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#227373 - 07/07/11 12:12 AM CERT Tranining
ScouterMan Offline
Journeyman

Registered: 08/19/07
Posts: 65
Loc: Massachusetts, USA
I just got back from the first training session for my local Community Emergency Response Team. Not bad. Fairly basic but it could be fun and interesting. Some nice people anyway.

Are there any ETS members who are also CERT members? I'd like your opinions on what I can expect other than the "sales pitch." I'm just wondering if I'm going to learn anything new.

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#227382 - 07/07/11 02:02 AM Re: CERT Tranining [Re: ScouterMan]
Lono Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 10/19/06
Posts: 1013
Loc: Pacific NW, USA
Learn anything new? Sales pitch? ScouterMan, if you're sold anything other than basic self-rescue techniques and how to stay out of the way of first responders, you should steer clear of this CERT training.

CERT doesn't teach you anything abundantly novel or new, what it does is give you a curriculum that may save your life and the lives of your neighbors in the event of an emergency so broad that first responders are not immediately available.

In only one jurisdiction am I familiar with a CERT program that does more with CERT trainees other than allow them to self-organize, prepare to respond in their neighborhoods etc - that's Southern California, where the need has been so dire they reach a level of organization that justifies the effort. There they invite CERTs to train in more advanced rescue techniques, and I have met former SoCal CERTS who are now happily employed as PNW paramedics. In every other jurisdiction, CERT gets its rightful place - you're given the basics to triage wounded, effect rescue from lightly damaged structure, put out small fires, shut off gas, etc. In reality: if you have no first aid skills, your triage will be a nightmare, if you get emotional about rescuing your Uncle Hal and Aunt Harriet you may endanger yourself and other rescuers going in after them in a collapsed structure, and if you don't set aside a fire extinguisher your house will smolder and burn after an earthquake. If you take CERT training though, and follow the training, you will be more prepared for all of this than the average bear. If you're lucky (where defn lucky = organized), your CERT chapter may be called out to fill sand bags, or do other simple deployments.

CERT training doesn't prepare you for some sort of fire department auxiliary - in the event of a disaster, actual fire fighters will look past you and rely on their own scant resources. If you're looking for better first aid, I recommend an EMT course; if you want to rescue folks for a living, go apply with your local FD or join a volunteer organization. You'll get dozens of hours of actual training that might qualify you to help out. CERT gives you an introduction on the mechanics of preparing yourself, and rescuing your family and neighbors in the event first responders aren't available.

Don't get me wrong - I am CERT, I've taken some follow up training with our local FD. Its what motivated me to prepare for the types of disasters I may encounter near where I live. Its what started me connecting with my neighbors, since in the event of an actual disaster I may be helping them, or they will be helping me - we're all in it together. Its what connected me with my volunteer position with the Red Cross, where thanks to more advanced training and experience I can set up sat comms, and establish shelter and feeding operations for 5,000 all in a few hours. When the big 9.0 EQ hits our neighborhood, my responsibilities are local, very CERT: I have plenty of kerlix and bandages set aside for crush wounds and everything else we'll see in terms of injuries. I have a garbage can full of pry bars and cribbing material for extrication. I have fire extinguishers at the ready. I have a small supply of KIA tags. I will still be praying for a real fire fighter, cop or EMT to show up in our neighborhood in the first 72 hours.

My one advice: no matter what your level of experience, don't take CERT as new or not new. The guys who sat through the CERT training and tossed it off as stuff they already new, I distinctly recalled how they failed in the practical tests at the end of CERT. They were not the type of guys I would want to rely on in an emergency, shiny green vest or no. CERT works when you treat it as tools to prepare you to self-rescue and to maintain your family safely through typical emergencies. And you get bonus points I think if it causes you to enhance your training in one area or another, but that's probably outside CERT curriculum, which I think they're okay with.

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#227391 - 07/07/11 04:49 AM Re: CERT Tranining [Re: ScouterMan]
dweste Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 02/16/08
Posts: 2463
Loc: Central California
CERT like many other things is what you make of it. Stay alert for advanced and auxiliary training opportunities, to which CERT can open the door.

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#227394 - 07/07/11 06:51 AM Re: CERT Tranining [Re: Lono]
Bingley Offline
Veteran

Registered: 02/27/08
Posts: 1384
Originally Posted By: Lono
Learn anything new? Sales pitch? ScouterMan, if you're sold anything other than basic self-rescue techniques and how to stay out of the way of first responders, you should steer clear of this CERT training.

... CERT gives you an introduction on the mechanics of preparing yourself, and rescuing your family and neighbors in the event first responders aren't available.


I've been looking for CERT training in my location, because I'm a prepper. Your response leaves me confused. While you've put in some time already writing your post, I am hoping you or some other CERT people can elaborate.

First, is there no standardized curriculum in CERT? It sounds like "your mileage may vary," not just depending on the quality of the instructor, but even on the very content of the course at your location. Also, "sales pitch"? What is this about? Do some people want CERT to be something more than what you think should be?

Second, what is a CERT course like? In other words, what kind of preparation and rescue are we talking about? From your post, it also sounds like there is a division of labor.

An EMT course seems too expensive and too long for a non-SAR professional. I'm just a civie who would like to get through disasters in one piece, and help where I can. I have no interest in being a fireman. I'm going to do some Red Cross courses. Should I add CERT to my list?

Da Bing

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#227403 - 07/07/11 01:29 PM Re: CERT Tranining [Re: ScouterMan]
chaosmagnet Offline
Sheriff
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/03/09
Posts: 2946
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: ScouterMan
Are there any ETS members who are also CERT members? I'd like your opinions on what I can expect other than the "sales pitch." I'm just wondering if I'm going to learn anything new.


I'm in an active CERT. We've had two callouts and a major training exercise since I joined about a year ago. We also run aid stations at local festivals. We're trained for first aid, triage, light fire suppression, light search and rescue, operating disaster shelters, and how to work together with each other and with larger groups. While we haven't been trained for it per se, we also perform traffic control.

The training was well-done but I came in knowing most of the material. I'm much better trained, for example, on first aid and communications than the CERT curriculum.

None of the stuff we're trained to do is all that hard. Our team's value is that we're organized and plugged in to the fire department, our county EMA, and surrounding CERTs, all of whom are glad to use us for things we're good at when their resources are stretched.

Individually, our value is that we're trained to be self-sufficient during emergencies and to help our neighbors. These are things that I have done before, but now I have a fancy green uniform and backpack that makes it easier for my neighbors to accept suggestions :-).

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#227404 - 07/07/11 01:30 PM Re: CERT Tranining [Re: Bingley]
chaosmagnet Offline
Sheriff
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/03/09
Posts: 2946
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: Bingley
An EMT course seems too expensive and too long for a non-SAR professional. I'm just a civie who would like to get through disasters in one piece, and help where I can. I have no interest in being a fireman. I'm going to do some Red Cross courses. Should I add CERT to my list?


This is exactly why I joined my local CERT, and that's what I'm getting out of it.

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#227417 - 07/07/11 05:01 PM Re: CERT Tranining [Re: Lono]
Arney Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 09/15/05
Posts: 2485
Loc: California
Originally Posted By: Lono
Learn anything new? Sales pitch? ScouterMan, if you're sold anything other than basic self-rescue techniques and how to stay out of the way of first responders, you should steer clear of this CERT training.

I think the phrase "sales pitch" was a confusing choice of words. I think he means asking for personal experiences with CERT courses versus just repeating the official reasons given for attending the training.

But, back to the original question, if you're already into preparedness, then you may not learn much new info since it is meant to be a pretty basic intro. But you may run across a gem or two.

For me, the training on using AED's was something totally new. I hadn't had a CPR refresher in quite some time so I had never been trained to use them. It was very helpful and confidence-building to actually get some hands-on time with the units, practicing to apply the probes and operating the unit and seeing what's involved.

Oh, and CPR guidelines have been evolving quite a bit in the past few years, so if you haven't had a refresher in a while, you'll probably be learning new, simpler guidelines which hopefully stick in your brain better under stress.

Triage was something unique for me that I never encountered in standard first aid courses before. If you ever find yourself being one of the first people at a big mass casualty event, being able remember the principles of triage could assist you in helping more people than you otherwise would if you simply tried helping the first person you came across or helping the one that may be screaming the loudest but actually have a pretty superficial injury.

Of course, meeting new folks and getting yourself plugged into further CERT training and activities will be a plus.

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#227599 - 07/11/11 12:54 AM Re: CERT Tranining [Re: ScouterMan]
ratbert42 Offline
Member

Registered: 05/31/06
Posts: 178
Loc: Florida
I went through CERT training about 3 years ago. That team has essentially disbanded at this point and I haven't gotten around to contacting another one that's further away.

CERT is almost always oversold, at least in my experience. The team I got training through were just itching to deploy on a disaster and kick ass. Even the career firefighters and paramedics involved didn't seem to be helping reduce that. There was even talk of building a disaster vehicle or trailer. I mostly just let them talk, but I did suggest that they cross-train with the local Red Cross Disaster Assistance Team (DAT) so they could at least go out and help people out after house / apartment / trailer fires and stay busy, but that didn't go anywhere.

The initial CERT training is reasonable. You need to understand the real purpose of it. If a large-scale earthquake, tornado, hurricane, etc. strikes, first responders will be overwhelmed for some time. If every neighborhood had a couple CERT-trained people and they worked with their neighbors, they could handle a lot of the minor emergencies. Shutting off gas, checking on neighbors, applying first aid, identifying real emergency situations, etc. would help a lot. I somewhat disagree with CERT teaching cribbing and search and rescue techniques because I think it's encouraging members to go beyond their abilities and place themselves in danger. In a true emergency without first responders, it could be a real life-saver though. I've just seen too many over-eager inexperienced volunteers go exploring disaster scenes.

I still recommend that people get CERT trained. Even if you just go through the program and get a CERT bag then never touch CERT again, you'll be in a better spot to help out your neighbors in a real disaster.

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