When I went through the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Academy final, I managed to secure a coveted incident command job. This meant that my admin skills were drawn upon for the good of the mission. It also meant that I didn’t see what was going on outside as part of the actual mock disaster. I vowed then that for the next mock disaster I would be one of the “victims” so I could see the other side. I had my chance this past Saturday.
There were a lot of us volunteers waiting for our turn in the make up chair. As each new person emerged looking really gory, the reaction from the rest of us was universal: “Ewwww” followed by “All right!”
Initially I was disappointed to find that time was running out so my only make up job was going to be a black eye, but what a glorious shiner it was.
As we were waiting for the drill to start, however, I realized that eye was starting to swell. Blasted skin allergies! At the advice of the paramedic in charge, I ran back to the make up booth, had it removed and a less gruesome scratch/burn put on my cheek. I sprinted back all out of breath, just in time to intersect the CERT Academy students and play my pivotal role of telling them what happened and that they needed to get in there.
I was assigned a new BFF for the day, Sam, and she and I were instructed not to do what we were told by CERT team members and to sneak off from the triage/treatment area. We did our jobs well!
At one point I ran in and interrupt the search and rescue mission because Sam’s “son” had wandered off and collapsed, and no one was helping him. I can scream and pull at people with the best of them.
Later, as the beginning crews reported to the treatment area for reassignment, powers that be eventually assigned a very large Marine to be my handler so I didn’t run off any more. From what the instructors were saying, this kind of chaos happens. Having people who have just experienced major catastrophes be disoriented and not follow simple directions is something all disaster service workers would encounter if the worst happens.
Although I was probably labeled as a pain-in-the butt survivor, the Academy graduates I encountered were wonderful. There was one woman who spent the time to comfort me when Sam became unresponsive, and it was dawning on me what that meant. That was her instinctive reaction… and she is exactly the type of person I’d be proud to work with in a real emergency or have come help me if I needed it.
All of us in CERT hope we never have to use our skills, yet we are all so glad to have them.
Have you ever been part of a disaster drill? or Who else has funky skin allergies that try to take the fun out of everything?