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Tvov
01-27-2005, 21:27
Anyone else heard about/dealt with this? We were just talking about it at the firehouse tonight. It may sound good, but I don't think it is workable.

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NEWS SEARCH Seeking CERT Support

By Nancy Bastian
Published on 1/27/2005


Susan is taking the expression "neighbors helping neighbors" to a whole new level. The long-time Madison resident is endeavoring to create a Civilian Emergency Response Team (CERT) in town, which she asserts will provide "a safety net of volunteers who can be called upon to help others in the community in the event of a major, widespread disaster." Susan understands the burden placed on police, volunteer firefighters, and medical personnel. After working as an emergency services dispatcher in Madison from 1981 to 1996, she realizes that during times of crisis, such as hurricanes and ice storms, emergency workers can be overwhelmed by requests for all levels of assistance. She has also observed that at the same time there are "citizens who...want to help, but are neither trained to do so nor have the structure to mobilize." Through the CERT program, Susan says these willing volunteers can be taught how to "become auxiliary resources," when public safety officials aren't able to respond immediately. While CERT would be new to Madison, Susan says it is a well-established program under the Department of Homeland Security. According to an online Homeland Security fact sheet, hundreds of communities in America have already implemented CERT programs. Susan says that at the heart of the CERT program is a required 20-hour course where members become proficient in basic disaster medical operations (moving injured people, treating life threatening conditions, triage, splinting), disaster preparedness, fire safety and suppression, as well as light search and rescue. Susan stresses CERT members don't compete with emergency fire, police, and medical personnel. She explained that the protocol is "CERT members first help themselves, their family, neighborhood, then the town, but only to the extent of their training, which is very basic." She adds that "in cases of area specific needs, CERT can help with traffic control, aid the walking wounded, assess medical needs" or even saw and remove tree limbs that have fallen across roadways, which prevent emergency vehicles from getting where they are needed. To build a CERT in Madison, Susan says there must be at least 20 volunteers willing to undertake the training. There also must be a commitment to the program to stay with it for a number of years. She is happy to report that already the Madison Police Explorer Troop has expressed interest the program. Also needed to launch the program, according to Susan, is a source of funding. She notes gear (hard hat, vest, flashlight, glove) alone for one person costs nearly $80. Susan is hopeful that the community will embrace the program and be generous in its support. If all goes well, she anticipates that CERT classes will start sometime this spring.

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Just curious about other's thoughts on this.

obxprnstar
01-28-2005, 13:19
It might be workable, but it does sound good. My thoughts on this..

#1) 80 bucks? Sounds like not much equiment, but whatever. That is not much cash, I think each individual could EASILY shoulder that. I might spend several times that in a year for travel, time, equipment, etc related to work.

#2) 20 hours. Once again this seems short, but I immagine you need to keep it short to keep peoples interest

#3) Chain of command?

#4) How would the interface with other rescuers?

#5) Dispatch? I suppose they just show up if they hear about somthing, or if their neighborhood gets wrecked

#6) Requirments? I hope fellons will not be on this team, that might tend to undercut credibility.

nam02G
01-28-2005, 15:23
My community is one with a CERT program. In fact the same training officer that works with the volunteer firefighters trains the CERT volunteers. I have observed a couple of their drills and they seem to know what they are doing. Our program has regular training and drills. Judging from past experiences with major windstorms and such in the area, when we didn't have a CERT program, they should be very helpful the next time we have one.

lomfs24
01-28-2005, 18:42
Sounds like a pretty good idea. I agree with obxprnstar, 20 hours seems pretty short for all the stuff that they are planning to cover. But then again if they do regular refreshers and training it could be devoloped into a useful resourse.

I have put together a fairly good "kit" for my car for quite a bit less than $80.

I would imagine that chain of command would be quite a bit less structured than a regular department. But as they are auxillary help they would probably come in at the bottom of the chain to regular departments.

Edge
01-28-2005, 20:07
CERT teams are a good idea. They have been used in Illinois and their formation and use is expanding in Illinois and nationwide. Several CERT members from Illinois went to Florida to help with hurricanes last year. A civilian with some training is better than a civilian with none; especially when more trained resources are not available or dealing with more urgent matters.

http://training.fema.gov/EMIWeb/CERT/

Tvov
01-29-2005, 09:03
Well, thanks for the responses. I hadn't heard about this until recently. The problem I have with it is that for the last 9 years that I have been a member of my volunteer department in my small town, at every incident/scene we seem to spend half our time getting civilians away from the scene. It goes against my thinking to now be calling civilians in. We have mutual aid agreements with surrounding departments, and get quick response when we need it.

From a kind of pessimistic point of view, it almost seems that money is available from Homeland Security, so now they are inventing things to spend it on. Instead of forming a new organization, what about the existing organizations? Why don't these people look into joining the local fire department? Or becoming a member of the local ambulance association? Although we have no room at the moment, it has been years since anyone has just walked in and asked about joining. The FD north of us has plenty of openings, and they aren't getting any walk-ins.

I just don't see it working with how we are setup in our town and area. From the response, I am going to have to look more into this.

Thanks!

obxprnstar
01-29-2005, 12:54
People have a hard time justifying all of the time. In CE alone I maintain 48 hrs a year for my FD, and 36 hours a year for my EMT-P. It took me a year to get my FF II, and two years to get my medic. Folks just do not want to spend the time to get into this.

To be honest I doubt you would see these folks at you average incident, and if you did they would more than likely assist in a crowd controll function. Think post earthquake or other sudden event such as a tornado, or possibly even after a hurricaine. The times when resources are spread VERY thin. Hopefully they could help out, pitch in, take care of the light work, know their limitations and call for help/add'l resources when needed.

Trust me, I would like to know more info about this program were it to come to my area, but overall I think they will be an asset. As with everything else there will probabbly be some problems as they get set up and begin operating, but I would assume that with everyone involved having an open mind these kinks will be worked out.

Ankeny
01-30-2005, 21:59
Over 90 per cent of the fire fighters in Wyoming are volunteers. I have been a volunteer for more than 20 years. I have a degree in Fire Science, I am a certified Instructor IV, fire service Safety Officer, Public Fire Educator, Fire Officer III, Fire Fighter III (rolled into II now), and the list goes on, including a bunch of wildland stuff (did the interagency wildland gig for 15 years). Last year I recieved over 80 hours of training outside of my department, some of it off campus NFA classes including a ton of incident command. BTW, some of our county volunteer fire fighters are on Type I thru Type III wildland teams. Three of the trainers for the state are volunteers here, and we also have volunteers who are retired from paid departments, including former chief officers. On large interagency fires, it wouldn't be unusual to see one of our volunteer guys as the Incident Commander, Division Sup, etc. We have sent our people all over the nation, and to several places overseas.

The regional response team for this entire quadrant of Wyoming is based out of my county. The guys get paid for their training (heck the Haz Mat portion alone is over 40 hours) and they also get paid for putting the initial response vehicles together. Their task will be to pick up the pieces on an incident that out grows the local CERT teams. Don't know about where you folks live, but out here the fire service would basically be screwed without the unpaid professionals.

Tvov
01-31-2005, 07:06
Ankeny, I am a little confused about your response. So you think CERT is a good idea or no?

"The regional response team for this entire quadrant of Wyoming is based out of my county. The guys get paid for their training (heck the Haz Mat portion alone is over 40 hours) and they also get paid for putting the initial response vehicles together. Their task will be to pick up the pieces on an incident that out grows the local CERT teams. Don't know about where you folks live, but out here the fire service would basically be screwed without the unpaid professionals."

What is the "regional response team"? Are they considered volunteer? If you have volunteer FDs, and regional response, why would you need CERT?

obxprnstar
01-31-2005, 09:40
Originally posted by Tvov
Ankeny, I am a little confused about your response. So you think CERT is a good idea or no?

"The regional response team for this entire quadrant of Wyoming is based out of my county. The guys get paid for their training (heck the Haz Mat portion alone is over 40 hours) and they also get paid for putting the initial response vehicles together. Their task will be to pick up the pieces on an incident that out grows the local CERT teams. Don't know about where you folks live, but out here the fire service would basically be screwed without the unpaid professionals."

What is the "regional response team"? Are they considered volunteer? If you have volunteer FDs, and regional response, why would you need CERT?


In NC we have HAZ-MAT RRT's that cover several counties. These guys respond lights and sirens in a tractor trailer.

http://www.dcems.org/photos/rrt1.JPG

I will digress here briefly when I tell the story of when they had to come out here for a fire in a fish packing warehouse. The tractor trailer was headed down hwy 64 Eastbound at a high rate and passed two State Troopers that were about to turn east out of their station. They turned west.

Ankeny might be talking about a DMAT or similar entity. Our RRT team takes about 10-30 min's to get out the door. Our DMAT is in the area of 1-2 hours IIRC. Plus for both of those you have to factor in drive time. While the team is based where he is, you still have to factor in assembely time.

I still think in an incident where a DMAT team or other dissaster team such as rescue etc responded that there would be a place for CERT. From minor traffic control, assisiting with walking wounded, or just trying to calm a seriously injured pt down.

Ankeny
01-31-2005, 22:20
What is the "regional response team"? Are they considered volunteer? If you have volunteer FDs, and regional response, why would you need CERT?

The regional response team grew out of Homeland Security monies. Local agencies may or may not have a team of one type or another. Could be a CERT, Haz Mat team from a paid or volunteer department, etc. When I used the term CERT I should have said response team, period.

My point is volunteers and "civilians" can and do play an important role in the West. That's all I was getting at. FWIW, our guys are all volunteers, right up to the point a mobilization plan is put into action. After we are formally mobilized we get paid.

Rob72
02-02-2005, 14:39
Interesting, I just signed up with the CERT program here in OKC, to be "trained" in June. Ex-EMT (5 yrs, Wichita, KS), ex-Corrections (TN, 1 year, long enough to realize I shouldn't!). My take on it is that it gives people something specific to do, decrease the rush-to-do-"something", by assigning specific tasks. Although, I would observe that much of it may be about as useful as the duct-tape and saran wrap advice during the anthrax scare. It should work well in a natural disaster, but I see a lot of volunteer secondary casualties, when someone repeats the WTC attack.

I'm curious to see what's being presented, and make some new acquaintances.:)

Ankeny
02-04-2005, 12:26
I never did really answer the question. If anyone cares, here's my take on a CERT team and this is coming from a guy who has been around to see what happens when you "mobilize" volunteers.

First off, if the team members hold a job in addition to membership on a team, it's very tough to get a lengthy committment out of the members if they need to go on a long term incident. For instance, if we need two engine bosses and four fire fighters to go out as two single engine resources, we might need to wade through a list of 30-40 folks, or more, to find 6. If we send people and they need to demobilize, coming up with a replacement can bite us in the butt. In short, for a CERT to be viable, you need a lot of members. Many more than you would ever need to mobilize.

Next, folks get excited at first and they will take to training like ducks to water. Problem is, if there aren't any calls, they lose interest and it's tough to get them to maintain interest and/or a decent level of preparedness. The team will eventually evaporate and the search for new recruits can be brutal.

FireGuy
02-05-2005, 14:06
I can think of lots of uses for a CERT. The teams may not prosper in large metro areas, but in the more urban and remote locations they would provide assistance that's often needed but not available. Think of it as an assistance program, not a replacement for the other auxiliary units you find with some sheriff and fire departments.

The point made concerning keeping the teams available and motivated is very valid. As someone whose manaaged several paid chief/ volunteer departments, that is always the biggest challenge. It takes strong leadership and the ability to use positive motivation to keep these types of organizations going.

FG

PS - wonder if they are looking for someone to help? Then I could come home...:)

Ankeny
02-05-2005, 22:04
Nah, can't be...can it. Is that you Ralph? WTF are you doing in the sandbox?