Friday, July 14, 2006

Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) in San Mateo

This past week, I attended a training session sponsored by the San Mateo Fire Department. It's a six week course that trains community members to help first responders like the fire and police departments. There were about 30 people in the class and we're the first class to be trained in the new program that's based on a course developed in Menlo Park, CA and abides with new federal guidelines for community participation.

This is how it's described on the San Mateo city site:

Become a trained member of The City of San Mateo's Community Emergency
Response Team (CERT). During the six week course, participants will be
cross-trained in emergency skills that will include earthquake preparedness,
disaster response, basic disaster medical care, light search & rescue, fire
extinguishment, damage assessment and response team organization. The final
class will enable participants to practice these new skills in a hands-on drill.
Please wear comfortable shoes and clothing to class. For more information,
please call 522-7960.

The course is free and they plan to run it again in September.

Why I am doing this course when I have no time (working, kids, building a house)? Because I stood by and watched Katrina, realizing that I had no idea how I could help that community or even my own community, if disaster struck. We live just a mile from the San Andreas fault, so it's inevitable that we'll see a devasting earthquake in the area within my lifetime.

My goal is to help organize my neighborhood so that we can help each other in a time of crisis. To that end, I'll be learning basic skills such as how to put a fire, search and rescue, and handling emotions in times of crisis. Over time, I hope to add other more advanced skills like advanced first aid/EMT skills and even ham radio operation.