Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Waynewood Neighbors Gear Up for Emergencies

Waynewood Neighbors Gear Up for Emergencies. Eight new members receive their CERT certificates.
By Gale Curcio Friday, May 28, 2010
Published 5/31/2010 Mt Vernon Gazette

Bodies lying on the floor. People moaning in pain. Men and women wearing green vests and hard hats applying bandages and recording injuries. An explosion? An accident? No, it’s a group of men and women learning what to do in case there should be a disaster.
The most recent training for Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) was held in the meeting room at the Mount Vernon Government Center during the month of March and April. The evening training course consisted of two-hour classes on five consecutive Mondays.
The lead instructor is certified by the Fairfax County CERT Organization. Students learned about Disaster Preparedness, CERT Organization, Disaster Medical Operations, Light Search and Rescue Operations/hazards, Disaster Psychology, and Terrorism. Practical application drills enhanced the training.
Members for this class were recruited from the Waynewood subdivision. Prior to the class, Waynewood had nine CERT members; with addition of the spring class, there are now 17 CERT members in Waynewood. Classes such as this are being held throughout Fairfax County and will continue to be held.
Kent Siegel coordinates Neighborhood Watch, and was instrumental in gathering together the members for this training session. He recently sent out an email to the members, saying, “While the county’s emphasis is on training and periodic drills, it will be up to each community to get local CERT members organized. Otherwise we will be a bunch of loose ends with no ability to act forcefully as a unit when there is an emergency situation for which we were trained. “As we move forward, I will pass pertinent information on to you that I receive, including opportunities to participate in additional training and events in which you can participate for annual CERT re-certification. A good way to track this sort of information is on the CERT blog at http://fairfaxcountycert.blogspot.com.”
“I ATTENDED class last year,” said Mary Beth Powers. “Kent Siegel asked me join the ranks of the other ‘CERTS’ in the neighborhood, however, I had an ulterior motive in attending — my job. With all the events I plan, I am bound to have an emergency sooner or later; therefore, the course taught me how to handle many different types of emergencies and disasters. I would recommend it to everyone!”
The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) is a system of training citizens to respond to large scale emergencies within their own neighborhood when the resources of the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue system have been overwhelmed. These citizens are trained in the absence of a fire department response to mobilize and organize a rescue team for their community.
“It all starts with the people, if a disaster strikes, be prepared, know what to do and do it safely,” said Kevin Mullins, volunteer instructor. “Our training can give you special skill sets and help you cope with the effects of a disaster."
Training doesn’t involve any unusual physical requirements; and persons with health care, emergency service, construction and military experience are especially encouraged to sign on.
This is not a comprehensive medical or emergency course, but instead some practical instruction about what to do in case of an emergency. Some of it is common sense but forgotten in the panic of the emergency. For example, when going into a building that is dark and/or filled with smoke, the first inclination is to head right into the middle of the room. One student quickly learned that is not the correct way to approach the situation. Instead, you “hug” the perimeter of the wall, so that you can follow that same wall when you need to leave the building.
Students quickly learned three other things: The most important person is ‘Me’ (make sure that you are safe and uninjured before you start helping others); ‘Do the Greatest Good for the Greatest Number of People’ (attend to those that you can help within 60 seconds and move on to the next victim); and ‘duct tape’ is your best friend.
In fact, duct tape was used for just about everything, from taping up injuries to recording assessments of the injured (Green-walking wounded; Yellow-conscious, needs help; Red-not conscious, critical; and Black-dead).
STUDENTS LEARN to “Evaluate – Sort – Treat.” They know that they have to work quickly. Denise Hopp, one of the volunteer instructors, said, “I believe everyone can benefit from the knowledge taught in CERT. Whether you want to advance and continue to take other CERT classes or just want to obtain basic ‘self- help’ skills in disaster preparedness. CERT gives you a foundation to not take a victim mentality in the time of need and to be a valuable resource to yourself, your family and your community when it is most needed.
“It is fulfilling as an instructor to see students go from an ‘I have no idea what to do’ fear, to ‘what else can I do’ eagerness.” While the first class (CERT I) is pretty elementary, the next class (CERT II) goes into much more detail.
Tom Beattie took both classes and said, “Well, if you talk about CERT II it is much more hands-on. You practice pretty much everything that you read about in CERT I.”
In addition, CERT members have plenty of opportunities to work events, and participate in drills. One of these drills is scheduled for Saturday, June 5, at the Lorton Prison.
The explanation on the website states: “We are in need of people to play the role of ‘victims’ for this drill. As a victim you will be expected to play your role as realistically as possible. You will receive ‘make-up’ to show ‘wounds’ and will have fake blood placed on your clothes. As such, please dress for the elements (we have the drill rain or shine) as you will be waiting outside to be found, in clothes that you can get very dirty, stained, and possibly even torn. You must wear long pants and closed end shoes, due to the location, we cannot make exceptions to this rule. Some of you may also be called upon to assist the rescuers in performing their duties. You may participate in any way you feel comfortable.
“This is a very exciting opportunity to help your community. Live ‘victims’ are essential to providing high quality training, and you'll learn quite a bit too! We'll even throw in lunch afterwards.”For more information, visit http://fairfaxcountycert.blogspot.com or call 703-246-4683.

Gale Curcio is an independent writer and public relations consultant in Mount Vernon. Gale also attended this CERT training