I arrived at the sheriff’s station at the ungodly hour of 8 a.m. on Saturday morning, toting a full coffee cup. There were about 40 other local residents ready to be educated.
That first Saturday was grueling. We were told about disaster preparedness, search and rescue operations and triage and how we should respond. The goal repeated over and over was for us to be self-reliant because emergency responders might not get to us for up to three days following a disaster.
At the end of Saturday, I felt a little shell-shocked myself as I made my way home.
The three sessions held during the week each lasted about three hours each and included hands-on training in search and rescue, triage and treatment, "cribbing" (the act of raising a large object off of a victim without injuring them or the rescuer), fire suppression and even disaster psychology and terrorism recognition.
The first half of our final Saturday was a hands-on, practical test at Crescenta Valley Park.
Divided into teams, we demonstrated our abilities in fire suppression, cribbing, establishing a command post, search and rescue and triage.
We broke for lunch then convened at the sheriff’s station for the second part of our exam, the written test.
Though I did very well in practical training, the written stuff skunked me. Not to worry, though; each answer was given and discussed among the class. The paper mistakes I made were ones that I would not make again.
At the end of the day, I was presented with my certificate of graduation by Deputy Wilson Lee, program manager for CERT. The deputy encouraged us to become more active within the CERT program as there are several teams established in the foothills and it is important for us to communicate with each other so that when "the big one" comes, we will be prepared.
To become CERTifiable contact Dutton through the Crescenta Valley Chamber office. I think the next class is in July.