First CERT Team Graduates In Estes Park
You Can’t Predict…But You Can Prepare
By: Kris Hazelton
The first Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) just finished their course of classes in Estes Park. I am pleased and proud to say that I am one of those now certified in CERT.
Participants in my class were Gail Albers, Deb Bialeschki, Dott Dewitz, Tom Dewitz, Kris Hazelton, Kevin Hendrix, Renelle Jacobson, Dan Kirkpatrick, Lowell Krandell, Annette Marshall, Rhonda Mickelson, Amanda Nagl, Michael Nagl, Sue Pinkham, Jeremy Plume, Glenn Rumley, Jo Rumley, Pete Smith and Douglas Tabor.
Stan and Pam Becker were the excellent facilitators for the classes, which were held at the Estes Park Fire Department.
In the seven weeks of CERT classes, we were instructed on basic fire suppression, triage and disaster first aid, light search and rescue, psychological effects of disasters, and personal, family and neighborhood preparedness. We learned hands-on and in a classroom setting.
When mentioning the class to my friends, I was asked, “Why are you taking the CERT training?”
Well to me, it’s like paying for car insurance. I may never need it and I’d certainly hope not to ever need it. But if the occasion arises, having the CERT training, just like having car insurance, means we’ve got a team right here in Estes Park, as ready as can be in any type of disaster, to help ourselves, our family and our neighborhoods.
CERT classes help “regular” citizens like us, learn how to rely on each other during emergencies, whether it is a wildland fire, major windstorm, an earthquake, flood or an act of bioterrorism. Our response, in turn, can help police and firefighters do their jobs when disaster strikes.
The goal with our class was to train community members in basic response skills and as CERT members, we will be integrated into the emergency response system.
In our CERT training classes, we learned to:
• Manage and/or shut off utilities and put out small fires,
• Treat the three medical killers by opening airways,
• Control bleeding, and treat for shock,
• Provide basic medical aid,
• Search for and rescue victims safely,
• Organize ourselves and other possible spontaneous volunteers to be effective,
• When help does arrive, as CERTs we can provide useful information to responders and support their efforts, as directed, at the disaster site by documenting details of the disaster.
Using the expert training we received from the Beckers, local Fire Chief Scott Dorman and fire and police personnel, we are now able to assist others in our neighborhoods or workplaces following an event when professional responders are not immediately available to help. We also have a better understanding of the potential threats to our very own homes, workplace and our community and can take the right steps to lessen the effects of those hazards.
If a disaster happens that overwhelms our local response capability, we as CERT members can apply the training we learned in the classroom and during exercises to give critical support in our immediate area until help arrives.
Our local government has definite plans for any emergency. However, there may someday be a large scale emergency or disaster that can overwhelm our community’s immediate response capability. While adjacent jurisdictions, State and Federal resources will also activate to help us, there may be a delay for them getting to those of us who need them, (think of the long canyon drives). The primary reason for CERT training is to give us the decision-making, organizational, and practical skills to offer immediate assistance to family members, neighbors, and associates while waiting for that help to arrive. Doing the most good, for the most people was drilled into our heads during the classes.
After graduating from the CERT training, I am happy to report that, our learning will not stop here. We as CERT members will continue to work together to maintain team knowledge and skills as well as recruit new members for future classes. (We need a BIG team here in Estes Park!).