I graduated

Ever since I read Lucifer’s Hammer (which was followed two days later by the Southern California blackout!), the need to have emergency supplies on hand has been at the top of my mind.

It led to a not so successful volunteer attempt, but that led to more research and another opportunity. Some of you know about my guest post at an unusual site, and it was a similar site that told me about the concept of Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT). Thanks to Google, I found out that my fair city had such a program, and I signed up for the next academy.

San Diego CERT Logo

I was lucky to be part of a fantastic team, all of whom stuck out the entire training. After five weeks of classes, this last weekend was my final exam.

The final was a mock disaster search and rescue drill. We started the day by turning in our take-home final. I was pumped and ready to go. All we knew is that there would be very realistic looking volunteer “victims”, not to stand in front of anyone saying they are nauseated, and to never be more than arm’s length away from your partner. I was fortunate to be selected as the assistant to the Incident Commander (the volunteer in charge of the whole drill), where my organizational skills served us all well. It felt good to play an important role.

Now that I have graduated, I get to decide whether or not I want to continue or simply add this to my degree/certificate pile. I’m not sure what I’m going to do. I keep going both ways. In order for me to join the CERT team, I will now need to attend two team meetings and have two additional training sessions. I’m all for learning new things, and the upcoming classes sound so wonderful!!! What really bothers me about the whole thing is I’m not sure how comfortable I would be being the first person on the scene in case of a disaster. If I mess up, either myself or the person I’m trying to help might die. That doesn’t sit well with me. I keep repeating to myself what our instructors said, “They were injured, hurt and dying before you got there. They will be that way after you leave.” So long as I do what was taught, I can keep myself safe and help others.

I love the skills that I have picked up, and it really gave me the training I wanted for how to be better prepared for any type of emergency that might happen. I definitely want to help spread the word about emergency preparedness. This morning I was so excited when I saw on the CERT website that my team meeting was on a day when I would be able to attend. That’s a good sign for me continuing.  Being on the team would be quite the Adventure Girl activity, wouldn’t it?

Would you be able to handle being among the first people on the scene in case of a disaster? Are you prepared if something happened in your part of the country?

8 thoughts on “I graduated”

  1. I’m so impressed with you for doing this. My daughter worked for Disney in LA (until her recent move to Anchorage) and Disney offered emergency training for them. Especially useful, they thought, for living in Los Angeles where earthquakes and large scale disaster/high population could indeed be a problem. To answer your question, could I handle it? I’m not sure, but I think I’d feel better and more empowered, certainly, if I was prepared. Worse would be a feeling of ignorance at what to do to help. I would imagine in those situations, adrenaline kicks in and you get to it. People’s lives would depend on it.
    Congratulations to you for an honorable endeavor. So nice to know people like you would walk among us if needed.

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    1. How sweet. Thank you!

      You are right that simply having the knowledge is very empowering. I’ve had a couple of my friends ask me to come over and teach them how to shut off their utilities and just look around for potential hazards they might not see. It is for that exact reason that my city offers all of that training for free: having a prepared population takes a lot of pressure off of the first responders.

      One of my teammates from training read my blog (truth alert: I did send the link to the team) and sent me a message hoping I will continue. That made me feel good. I am really looking forward to my first meeting with my new team, which consists of people who live near me, and with whom I would work in case of an emergency. If I get good vibes, I’m heavily leaning towards staying on. Plus there is a higher level volunteer position within the agency that I have my eye on that I can only do if I join my team.

      Still, it is scary!

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  2. I always wondered what it would be like to go through CERT training. I’ve thought about it off and on for a while here in Minneapolis. Although I wasn’t sure about all the time commitments I’d need to do, plus a lot of the training seemed to be in things I learned during my CPR/First Aid class in college.

    But from you wrote here, it sounds like it is a little more than that. I don’t know if I could be the first person in a disaster though. Blood kind of makes me sick. I’d likely pass out if it was really bad.

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    1. Steve, If you are interested in knowing more about emergency preparedness and what to do after an emergency, I highly recommend CERT. It is very different from your CPR/1st Aid class. Actually, if you are doing triage, you have to ignore that training to spend less than a minute per survivor you encounter. It’s a very good experience that teaches you to be more aware of your surroundings.

      Even if you don’t continue and become a Disaster Service Worker, you would still be able to help yourself and your neighbors in case of an emergency, which takes the pressure off of the first responders.

      I highly recommend it.

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  3. Tammy, you ROCK!!! I am SO proud of you… not to mention LUCKY, since you live in my building!

    Yes, ladies and gentlemen, there are actually people out there who take their valuable time to learn how to assist others in case of disaster and you, too could be one of them. Just think how nice it would be to have someone in EVERY BLOCK be able to assist others in a catastrophe. Hmmmm… maybe there’s one of our newly elected officials out there that would be willing to put through a bill to that effect to assist with funding of such an undertaking.

    We all think it won’t happen to us, but truth is, it’s gonna, eventually.

    I thank my lucky stars for people like Tammy who are thirsty for knowledge and willing to help those in need. We could certainly use more human beings in “America’s Finest City” like her! Takers?

    Thanks for listening – make it a great day!

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    1. Thank you so much, Kathy. Aren’t you sweet. I hope I never have to use most of what I learned. I do feel much better knowing that I will have some clue as to what to do in case of an emergency. Even the little things, like being able to secure the water heater after an earthquake so it doesn’t become a missile, and how to shut off the gas to the building, makes me more secure.

      I take CPR/1st aid this weekend, and then have my first team meeting on Wednesday! 🙂

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