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#242449 - 03/04/12 06:01 PM Re: CERT Expectations [Re: hikermor]
Bill_G Offline
Journeyman

Registered: 06/06/08
Posts: 92
Bingley,

I'm downloading the material from your link. We have not been provided the Participant Manual, or any handouts for that matter, through the first 3 classes. We have seen some of the info via slides and I've been taking notes.

The fire suppression class was given by a local fire dept instructor and was about half academics (some of the info in the web site slides) and half actually fighting small fires with a fire simulator. That was very effective I believe.

The CPR/AED was the American Heart Assoc course which was follow the video and then perform the actions (a step-by-step approach). So that was virtually all hands on training, plus some side info from the instructors. They touched on the "hands only" technique, but taught the version which includes "breaths". The AHA class was a bit different from the military and Red Cross classes in the past, but it gave all the same info. Went out and bought a couple of face shields to carry with me.

I'll be going over the downloaded material above T make sure I get all the info and can ask questions if I have any.

Thanks for the links and hope this helps.

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#242453 - 03/04/12 06:43 PM Re: CERT Expectations [Re: Bill_G]
Bingley Offline
Veteran

Registered: 02/27/08
Posts: 1415
Originally Posted By: Bill_G
I'm downloading the material from your link. We have not been provided the Participant Manual, or any handouts for that matter, through the first 3 classes. We have seen some of the info via slides and I've been taking notes.


You can also find PowerPoint slides on the same web page. From what I can tell, the slides seem like a simplified version of the manual. Maybe if you read ahead, you can impress the teacher and ace the class!

It's good to know there are practical components to the course.

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#242506 - 03/06/12 12:10 AM Re: CERT Expectations [Re: hikermor]
ki4buc Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 11/10/03
Posts: 710
Loc: Augusta, GA
Edit: I had the wrong point of view!

READ - Read the materials before going to class. If you have any questions, write them down as you're reading them. Keep them available as they will most likely be answered.

PARTICIPATE - This training is for the CERT __TEAM__. If the instructor is explaining something one way, and you understand it another and can help another student, please do! If you don't understand something ASK!

KEEP INVOLVED - This is basic level training. You don't have any experience with it probably. Make it a priority to go to any additional training, and if your State has a CERT Day GO! This is an orientation to Disaster Operations and how you will help. Most of the skills you learn could be learned somewhere else, but in this course they are taught with the disaster environment in mind (Note: CPR is not performed in a disaster environment). So, this course is only the beginning and will help you figure out what skills you want to learn. Speak to the CERT Team leader and/or EM Staff about this.

TAKE FEMA INDEPENDENT STUDY COURSES - Do you want the big picture? You know that thing that helps you determine which option in a decision is more important? Some of these can help. http://training.fema.gov/IS/crslist.asp If you are looking to be a valued volunteer in the future, please take IS-100, IS-200, and IS-700. Feel free to take IS-800 or any of the ESF courses you're interested in. There are a few courses in there geared towards the general public.

Last but not least, if you have any questions, comments, etc. Feel free to message me.


Edited by ki4buc (03/06/12 12:26 AM)

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#242553 - 03/06/12 06:25 PM Re: CERT Expectations [Re: hikermor]
Bill_G Offline
Journeyman

Registered: 06/06/08
Posts: 92
Thanks ki4buc. I have found the course list because the IS-100/200/700 was mentioned in the first class. I'll be "taking" those soon. Have seen a few others that look interesting as well.

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#243965 - 03/29/12 05:10 AM Re: CERT Expectations [Re: hikermor]
Bingley Offline
Veteran

Registered: 02/27/08
Posts: 1415
BIll_G, hikermor, and others,

So how closely did your CERT class adhere to the materials from the CERT link I provided? How useful was the class? Did you learn new skills? Would you say it's worth the 15-20 hours they ask of you?

My class is still a few months away, but I'm eager to hear about your experiences.

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#244187 - 03/31/12 05:43 PM Re: CERT Expectations [Re: hikermor]
Bill_G Offline
Journeyman

Registered: 06/06/08
Posts: 92
Bingley, here is my experience so far. We have our final class and exercise next week.

The short answer to your questions:
1. So how closely did your CERT class adhere to the materials from the CERT link I provided? Pretty close. Much more detail in the manual, though.

2. How useful was the class? I found it useful. If a disaster strikes here, I feel I can be of more help and better team member, which was the reason I got involved.

3. Did you learn new skills? Yes, primarily in the triage and search and rescue ares. Resfresher in the CPR, First Aid and fire suppression.

4. Would you say it's worth the 15-20 hours they ask of you? Was to me, but I think that will be a personal assessment when you're done. And it will stir me to learn more and prepare better.

Long answer:

We did not receive a/the manual. Even receiving copies of the .ppt slides would have been helpful with taking notes. I believe not receiving the manual was a financial decision. On the whole, our instruction covered the areas in the manual. The manual contains more detailed information however, including diagrams, lists and checklists.

Some of the Disaster Prep. information was covered more extensively and geared toward disasters we can expect in our area (tornados, hurricanes, wild/forest fires). The CERT organization was covered more from a local perspective vs the what the manual covers in Unit 6 of the manual. It was emphasized to document, document, document. Seeing the forms listed in the manual would have helped our understanding significantly.

The Fire Safety section was taught by a local FD. It covered the types of fires (ABC etc) and an exercise of extinguishing fires using a training device (which was quite good). The hazardous material section was less extensive (didn't cover the DOT placards for example).

The CPR section was about what I have experienced in the past, although taught using the Amer. Heart Assoc. (AHA) curriculum. They use video to set up the training and then stop the video so you can practice.

The First Aid section was the most disappointing for me (and some other folks in the class). It also was presented using an AHA curriculum. Maybe my military training is not what it should be compared to, but we did not cover items like burns or pressure points. The use of pressure on the bleeding wound was a major point of emphasis. Minimal time was spent on splints. We were told the local medical community wanted our training to be minimal. It would interesting to see what the local Red Cross curriculum is (I may search for a local class to compare).
Triage was covered pretty well. The manual would have helped, but I think they did a good job here. To me this is a challenging area. Determining whether to move on from a seriously injured individual to one that may be "saved". Also, our local medical community will not allow CERT to determine that someone is dead. So we cannot use the "black" tag. If we come across someone who we believe is "dead" we tag them with a double "red" tag. The medical assessment info is more extensive in the manual. We did not cover the Medical Treatment Areas outlined in the manual.

Light search and rescue was covered pretty well. We did not cover leveraging and cribbing at all. We were basically told we would net be involved in those operations (at least not on our own).

The psychological section was presented by a retired psychologist who did a good job covering what I think we may encounter with victims and workers. CISD was addressed in that there is a group of Drs who are avaialble to help CERT members as necessary.

Our terrorism instruction basically covered the types that are out there, staying observant, etc. Our post event involvement would probably be minimal, but we could be called upon.

Our county is in central Florida and has alot of "senior" communities. There are 39 established teams in the county. Our involvement would probably be just in our own community vs being available countywide. My community seems to have one of the more involved teams and support from the community management.

Sorry this is so long winded. Hope it helps.

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#244191 - 03/31/12 06:51 PM Re: CERT Expectations [Re: Bill_G]
Lono Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 10/19/06
Posts: 1013
Loc: Pacific NW, USA
Originally Posted By: Bill_G
The First Aid section was the most disappointing for me (and some other folks in the class). It also was presented using an AHA curriculum. Maybe my military training is not what it should be compared to, but we did not cover items like burns or pressure points. The use of pressure on the bleeding wound was a major point of emphasis. Minimal time was spent on splints. We were told the local medical community wanted our training to be minimal. It would interesting to see what the local Red Cross curriculum is (I may search for a local class to compare).
Triage was covered pretty well. The manual would have helped, but I think they did a good job here. To me this is a challenging area. Determining whether to move on from a seriously injured individual to one that may be "saved". Also, our local medical community will not allow CERT to determine that someone is dead. So we cannot use the "black" tag. If we come across someone who we believe is "dead" we tag them with a double "red" tag. The medical assessment info is more extensive in the manual. We did not cover the Medical Treatment Areas outlined in the manual.

Light search and rescue was covered pretty well. We did not cover leveraging and cribbing at all. We were basically told we would net be involved in those operations (at least not on our own).

The psychological section was presented by a retired psychologist who did a good job covering what I think we may encounter with victims and workers. CISD was addressed in that there is a group of Drs who are avaialble to help CERT members as necessary.

Our terrorism instruction basically covered the types that are out there, staying observant, etc. Our post event involvement would probably be minimal, but we could be called upon.

Our county is in central Florida and has alot of "senior" communities. There are 39 established teams in the county. Our involvement would probably be just in our own community vs being available countywide. My community seems to have one of the more involved teams and support from the community management.

Sorry this is so long winded. Hope it helps.


Thanks Bill_G, this is an interesting summary and perspective. It goes to show how much the CERT training can be tailored to actual local response postures. It sounds as though the intention with your local CERT is that trainees would be called out after disasters to supplement and support first responders, but in no way are they taking independent action. By comparison, the CERT training I took was not intended to create a force of CERT trainees who get called out together to support first responders - it was intended more for individuals who might be stuck in the first 72 hours without first responders present. If we could organize and turn out with other CERTS great, but given the geography and the fact that this was only the second CERT session in our city, there wasn't a great expectation that CERTs would be plentiful enough to be an organized force in neighborhoods. In fact, the FD Captain who trained us said listen - if the Big One strikes, the first responders won't be in your neighborhood for at least 72 hours, you will be on your own, so you should focus on rescue and care of your family and immediate neighbors, and our overall training reflected those needs.

That, plus the local Fire Chief wasn't terribly keen on CERT as responders at any numbers. And while the local CERT has grown past 25-30 classes since I took the course, its still not at a critical mass to change anyone's minds I think. the last organized function I recall was to fill sandbags and keep flood water from encroaching on a non-critical structure - a city park building. Good to do, but hardly S&R and first aid.

Just for comparisions, some takeaways from my CERT training ~5 years ago:

1. First Aid - I would characterize our own training as rudimentary FA, pressure on bleeding, immobilization, safe lifting and evacuation from unsafe structures and situations. We covered burns extensively but were told you'll never had enough supplies to treat all the burns you may encounter, so do your best to stop burning, cover, and treat the burn as much as your supplies and conditions will allow until you can evacuate your patients.

2. Triage - this was very good, setting up a triage area at which to administer FA and evacuate the most seriously injured when you can. We were told to black tag the dead, and perform FA to the level of our training and supplies, which in a Big One EQ setting may be minimal. It sounds like the MEs and attorneys in your area don't want civilians making anything resembling an assessment of death, which I suppose could come back to bite you if a double red tag stayed alive in time to receive treatment - they don't want the CERT training to come back and bite them with a bad decision. The decision to black tag is made easier if the fact is you can't tell if they are dead, they will be, because you cannot get them to medical assistance in time to save them. Black tag or double red, you won't be spending much if any time with those patients. Move on to the living.

3. S&R - we did extensive leveraging and cribbing, to the point of recommending our own home cribbing kits (ex. a garbage can filled with 2x4 and 4x4 scraps, and a large pry bar, $15 at any hardware store). I don't know how often we will use that after a 9.0M quake, but we still operate under the golden hour principle that many of viable survivors will be extricated in the first hour after the event, so best get crackin.

4. Psychological First Aid was presented, but not in the context of a group of MDs who can come to our assistance with deployed CERTS. More like, you'll deal with people in psychological 'shock', acting irrationally, etc etc, so know the signs and how to calm and focus those affected. Self-diagnosis, and always seek assistance after the immediate disaster is over. I've been through the PFA process after a few disasters now, and personally I think you do the best you can, take time away from responding when you can, and follow up with someone to talk out everything that presents problems to you afterwards.

5. 39 teams in your county is really, really terrific. That gives you enough people to respond and really do some good. In our county CERT is much more spread out, not as organized - pretty much I am expected to turn out and provide for the safety of my family and neighbors with whoever else may be available to assist. I'd rather have 4-5 certs within a mile to help out with neighborhood sweeps, S&R, selecting and setting up a triage area, and monitoring our elderly neighbors for assistance needs (meds, cold/wetness etc). It will be alot more ad hoc. It sounds like you have a good CERT program though to build your experience and skills and really be a benefit to your community!

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#244203 - 03/31/12 09:58 PM Re: CERT Expectations [Re: Lono]
hikermor Offline
Geezer in Chief
Geezer

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 7191
Loc: southern Cal
We just finished the fourth week of our CERT course, so it is really interesting to compare notes. For sure, CERT is geared to local circumstances - in our situation, this means being primed for major earthquakes, when it won't be a question of being called out to deal with an emergency - it will be wrestling with local issues for at least the first 72 hours while the region begins to recover. Like you, our first aid is definitely rudimentary, and it wasn't represented as anything like a complete first aid course. The emphasis was on triage. After a lifetime of training in CPR, it was a little startling to wrap my mind around the concept of trying to open the airway twice, and, if unsuccessful, dropping a black tag and moving on to the next individual, but it does make sense under the proposed scenarios. It might not be so easy to accomplish in real life. What was really useful was discussion and practice of the signs and indicators of someone in the immediate (red) category. Triage is not covered in any first aid or EMT training I have ever been exposed to.

One phenomenon that hasn't been mentioned by others that affects us is tsunami potential(our harbor was damaged by last year's Japanese event). This was discussed in some detail - head for higher ground in the event of a local quake if you have a choice. The resulting tsunami could be upon us quite quickly, as in the 1812 event.

I find the instruction worthwhile and useful. I am glad I am putting in the time and effort, because I should be more useful and productive in the next emergency (provided I am among the survivors). They are emphatic about priorities - your self, your family, your immediate area and neighbors, and then the larger CERT operation, all of which makes perfect sense.

Our instructor is a very personable senior fire captain. In discussing the non-use of CPR in a major disaster, he offered that he has seen exactly seven successful resuscitations in some 300 attempts; this corresponds with my experience - both my situations were unsuccessful. CPR just doesn't add up, at least not initially, in a major event.

We did get a nice thick manual, although I don't think I will be carting it around to the next emergency. I expect I will go forward with some more CERT training after this course is finished. Hopefully we will assist each other in the next Big One, instead of turning into a snarling wolf pack the minute all the ice cream in the local supermarket melts.

The training is conducted, so far at least, by the County Fire Department. I think one of the benefits will be that participants will have a bit more insight into FD operations and, consequently, will be more effective in supporting their efforts. From what I have seen, we have a pretty good FD here in Ventura County and support for their work is time well spent.
_________________________
Geezer in Chief

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#244209 - 04/01/12 02:14 AM Re: CERT Expectations [Re: hikermor]
Bingley Offline
Veteran

Registered: 02/27/08
Posts: 1415
Thanks for the thorough, informative, and helpful write-up! This should be a reference thread for those of us thinking about doing CERT, but are not sure what to expect. I for one am convinced that I should at least give the CERT class a chance, even though the manuals may be quite detailed.

Over the next several months I'll be doing various forms of training, including CERT, first aid, CPR/AED. Since Bill asked about the Red Cross course vs CERT's coverage of similar topics, I'll post a comparison after I'm done.

Edit:

I'm still planning to do ham radio. Some of you may remember my asking about it last year. Well, guys, it's still in the pipeline, but like most of us, I have a job and everything. So one step at a time.

Originally Posted By: hikermor
Hopefully we will assist each other in the next Big One, instead of turning into a snarling wolf pack the minute all the ice cream in the local supermarket melts.


Is life without ice cream worth living??? ;D


Edited by Bingley (04/01/12 03:19 AM)

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#246040 - 05/20/12 04:30 PM Re: CERT Expectations [Re: hikermor]
Bingley Offline
Veteran

Registered: 02/27/08
Posts: 1415
Since I first posed the question about CERT, let me try to answer it myself now that I've been through the CERT course. Was it worth it? Depends on what you're looking for.

The lectures in the course are long and dull. The content is not rocket science, and almost all the information can be found in the manual, available from the Citizen Corps website. People who are good at learning on their own could get through this more efficiently than sitting through the lectures. So, if you just want information and don't need someone to read it to you in order to learn it, you don't need to take the CERT course.

Moreover, much of the course material is CERT-oriented. Its main guideline is to do the greatest good for the greatest number of people in disasters of mass casualties. So that means you won't even learn CPR, which is something that CERT is not supposed to do. They'd rather have you save five people in the same amount of time it may take to save one person with CPR, which can take a while. I also think some of the CERT operational parameters have to do with legal concerns. Deploying civilians in disasters probably gets some government lawyers very worried. So CERT wants to limit what its team members are allowed to do.

The hands-on exercises were more useful, especially for relatively inexperienced people. They were trivial for those with prior training (as EMT, SAR, etc.). Again, don't go to CERT just to learn techniques for opening airways or for bandaging wounds. There are far better courses for this sort of stuff, even though this was what attracted me to CERT in the first place (free training!). You'd get a lot more from a Red Cross course, and certainly a lot more hands-on experience.

CERT can vary quite a bit by location. Some people have reported getting free equipment (the CERT pack with about $120 worth of contents). I didn't, because my county ran out of backpacks, and the next round of funding hasn't arrived yet. (That means I'm not so useful if a disaster strikes -- I'm willing to volunteer, but I would like to be outfitted, rather than having to spend hundreds of dollars of my own money.) I got a print out of the manual with a nice binder, but that's not worth 20 hours of my life.

So did I regret going to CERT? No, at the end it was worth my while, though it could have been better.

I learned from my teammates. Some are into HAM radio and electronics. Others are experienced with long-term preparation. And some have search-and-rescue, firefighting, or military commanding experiences. It was highly instructive for me to see the more experienced people analyze the potential problems in an operation -- immensely more useful than the official CERT curriculum, which I regard as a mixture of common sense, basic aid, and legal/operational concerns. Those who had held commanding positions in the military really knew how to orchestrate complex operations in disasters. These guys would be very effective at running CERT.

The course concludes with a disaster simulation, and it was well-done. The instructors got permission to stage the simulation at the training building for the local firehouse. We had a good number of well-trained victims, in addition to an assortment of mannequins. I was impressed by the variety of situations they were able to work into a single hour. That includes: baby in a wreckage, people trapped in a house, person trapped under a collapsed wall in a narrow passageway, victims with various sorts of wounds (including ones hidden from sight), confused foreign tourists, etc. This took a lot of work to set up, so kudos to CERT!

My team had trouble coordinating and prioritizing. As a part of the simulation, we each arrived on scene separately, sometimes alone, sometimes with a buddy. Getting an assessment of the situation and figuring out what you need to do is not instinctive when the disaster looks big and there are people crying out for help. Coordinating without some sort of radio communication was also really hard, since we were dispersed over an area. This can get into the way of a team's work. Besides these crucial factors, the rest were mostly individual errors and inexperience.

It wasn't a stressful environment, I have to say, not that we would have been ready for real stress. The simulation felt like acting. A bit on the fake side. But obviously even this simulation was challenge enough for a new team. So it was a good learning experience that gave me a view of what it's like to be a responder in a disaster.

I appreciate most of all the opportunity to get involved in the community's emergency management. At the end, this is probably what you should CERT for -- to be a part of the effort that might save your neighborhood/city/state. In my view, CERT is still a developing program. Right now they're training people and forming individual teams, but it looks like they still face the challenge of coordinating all these civilians who, might I add, have many other life priorities, keeping the teams together, motivated, up-to-date and competent in their training.

What kind of continuing training/education does your CERT team have?

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