CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) Training, Southeast Denver, CO
The Sathya Sai International Organization (SSIO) has a long history of involvement in post-disaster relief efforts around the world. Over the last several years, there has been a concerted effort to establish disaster relief work as a key component of service activities both at the international and national levels within the organization. More recently, SSIO members in the United States have been strongly encouraged to develop critical skills needed to effectively respond to disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes and flooding, primarily through enrolling in federally approved training courses. These courses will prepare and certify volunteers to become part of the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) in their localities. CERT allows ordinary citizens to be trained as volunteers and to assist professional first-responders in the case of disasters, whether natural or human-made.
This is the story of one such CERT training held over two Saturdays in January 2018 in Southeast Denver, Colorado, organized by the Regional Service Coordinator and attended by 14 SSIO members from all over the state. The training, conducted by the Denver Office of Emergency Management, was attended by a total of 30 people in total, including members of the Grace United Methodist Church, where the Sai Center holds its regular devotion session. The joint training session provided a wonderful opportunity for fostering great fellowship between Sai Center members and churchgoers.
The CERT training sessions comprise a rigorous curriculum that focus on emergency preparedness and disaster response at the personal, neighborhood and the larger community levels. We were taught key information on the types of disasters, including fires, floods, hurricanes, severe snowstorms, and terrorism. We learned basic preparedness and a variety of hands-on disaster response skills including CPR and first aid. We also learned about fire safety and suppression, disaster medical operations, light search and rescue efforts, setting up emergency shelters, disaster psychology and team organization.
In the final participatory exercise, trainees divided up into teams, and went through a mock disaster with some attendees playacting as victims of a disaster for an opportunity for trainees to apply and practice all they had learnt. At the conclusion, each participant was given a backpack and certificate, and all were added to the list serve, ready to be involved with CERT teams in the event of a disaster in future.
All in all, it was a very fulfilling and gratifying training session as we left with a new-found confidence in our preparedness to deal with emergency situations. Participants expressed what a rewarding and enjoyable experience it was to learn critical disaster relief skills for use at home, and in the larger community. It felt gratifying to be part of a team of volunteers who could step in, eager and well-prepared, to assist professional first responders in providing desperately needed support after a disaster. Many looked forward to taking the next step to improve on their skills and their team’s effectiveness by participating in a full day of disaster response exercises scheduled for April 28th 2018