If there was a natural disaster or emergency in town.... or in Seattle because that could affect us... would you be prepared? Would you and your family manage? Would you survive? If the answer to any of these is "no," then, what do you need to do about it? And if you were able to answer "yes" to any of these, are you in a position to help your family and neighbors?
The City and Borough of Juneau (in partnership with other agencies) is presently giving a course titled, Community Emergency Response Team Basic Training (CERT). A few of us Lions are taking it (Lions Mike and Becky Allison and Lion Mike Norton and myself). It's a 14 hour course over the month of April. At the end will be a simulation exercise to show off everything we learned and a graduation at the end of the month.
CERT is sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), within the Department of Homeland Security. So we know this is serious business! We are learning the basic skills to help respond to our community's immediate needs in the aftermath of a disaster. We will make sure our family is safe, assess our home for immediate problems, then head out to assess our neighborhoods. We will work with a buddy and as a team. We will be the "bridge" between the community and the professional responders until they can arrive (police, firemen, etc.), assessing potential problems, dangers, and situations and then report back.
Courses include an overview of the potential disasters we might encounter in Juneau, how we can be more prepared, basic fire suppression (we get to put a fire out!), medical operations/triage, light search and rescue, terrorism, the emotional and psychology of a disaster, and a simulated disaster exercise.
So far we've only had one class and it was very interesting. We learned about working together and how we can start getting prepared. I've been working on my "grab and go" bag and making my list of supplies we still need in our pantry. We learned we should have an out-of-town contact to be in touch with immediately following a disaster to let them know how we are. We also learned that even though cell towers might be down and the phone system out, we can still send a text message.
We came home with our own CERTS backpack filled with all kinds of necessities--hard hat, security vest, duck tape, flashlight, masks, goggle, wrench, crowbar, utility knife, first aid kit and so much more. I'm so excited to FINALLY have my OWN crowbar! Hee hee!
Seriously, this is a program more people should get involved with. I believe the next one will be held this coming October. Meanwhile, we can also check with the local Red Cross to see what volunteer training/programs they have available. Juneau is such a small town.... the people here are our family and friends. We never know when the next disaster might hit, how hard it will hit, or who it will hit. Let's get prepared Juneau!