Disaster roles will be diverse

Our different roles in a disaster

by Larry Love

Trained CERT team

This is one of the Hispanic CERT classes that graduated in 2012

Did you know that in the event of an emergency many nontraditional assignments will need be made to help with things such as Child care for displaced children, Food Preparation, setting up rest areas, Search and Rescue workers and victims, construction of outside toilet facilities, transportation, collecting supplies for first aid & fire suppression.
A 7.4 earthquake has just hit Salt Lake City, now what is your role in the next week going to be?

As a certified CERT instructor we teach people to first take care of themselves, their family and then check on their neighbors. If an X mark is placed on the door or next to the door this will indicate to search and rescue teams that they do not need to go to that home thereby making it so they don’t waste time. After that, people should report to their local meeting places to get assignments. Each community has the responsibility to pre-plan where these meeting places will be.

Depending on your talents and your abilities you will be able to help your community during an emergency. Obtaining knowledge through programs like CERT*, The American Red Cross ** and HAM Radio training can be a great benefit to your neighborhood. Understand that we should not expect any outside help in the first 72 to 96 hours, emergency responders such as Fire and Police have been assigned to respond to large buildings, schools and Hospitals so that leaves the people in the local areas on their own.

At these local meeting places there will be different areas set up to assist in the different assignments. Some of these areas will require people that have been trained and others will not. Many of these jobs will be geared to making assignments and keeping track on paper of people, equipment and situations. If you cannot stand the sight of blood or if you have other physical limitations there will be many other opportunities for service. Federal assistance depends on accurate paperwork so while it may seem strange to be keeping notes during a time like this it is very important and will also help people focus which will assist them so they can better deal with tragic events.

Here is a list of some basic areas at a local meeting place that could be implemented as needed. Each local meeting place will expand as needed and may or may not need to have all these areas.

1. First Aid areas: An Urgent treatment area, a delayed treatment area for those that can wait and a morgue area.

2. Search and Rescue operations: Assignments will be made from this area to different parts of your community and one example would be having cribbing materials that can be checked out to help lift heavy debris off of people that are trapped.

3. Fire Suppression area: Gather tools and equipment that can be assigned out to put out small fires such as shovels fire extinguishers etc… Stress should be put on the fact that we will not be fighting any large fires but can help with evacuation of surrounding buildings and or homes.

4. Communications – HAM Radio operators and small GMRS radio communications. Runners can also be used.

5. Transportation of equipment, supplies, teams and victims

6. Command Centers will also be in charge of allocating the volunteers that show up to assign them to the different areas. If you are not CERT trained you still may be sent out with CERT trained people and those that go out into the neighborhoods should have basic safety gear so they do not get injured while trying to help others.

Some of the gear that would be prudent to have in your kit would be the following:

A. Dust Masks and CERT Vest or other bright color vest

B. Safety goggles

C. Good work boots (steel toe if possible) If you step on a nail while wearing other shoes you will become a victim instead of being able to help.

D. Medical non-latex exam gloves and basic first aid supplies

E. Leather Gloves

F. Hard Hat with head lamp

G. Water and snack foods like granola bars

This list is very different from your basic 72 hour kit.

CERT trained members receive quite a bit of equipment in their kits at the end of their 7 week training course. It is a 21 to 24 hour training class. There will be 2 weeks of disaster medical training which will help you gain the skills you need to save lives.

It is also very important to understand that the CERT teams are not trained as Law enforcement officers or as Fire Fighters and should not act as such. The main goal of CERT is to help the most people in the shortest amount of time after a disaster. CERT teams are self activated although they can be activated for things such as parades and other City or State functions.

The importance of working together needs to be stressed. The first CERT trained person that shows up at a local meeting place will be in charge, if they wish to allow someone else that comes later to take that spot that is fine as well. Many of these meeting areas are Churches and we need to remember that we need to work together with leaders of the community, churches and different organizations. The Church or community organizations can help CERT by taking care of tasks such as child care for displaced children, food preparation, rest areas, toilet areas and hand washing areas so CERT can concentrate on their main objectives.

Make a goal to enroll in some classes so you can be better prepared in the event of an emergency. Decide what your role will be beforehand.

*CERT Community Emergency Response Team Training – www.slccert.org – Call John Flynt at 801 799 3604 or Charlie Eckhart (801) 641 6785 to set up a class in your area.



** American Red Cross First Aid, AED and CPR training-
www.redcross.org 1(800)-733-3767 Call for local training sessions


***Local HAM Radio Training – Call Charlie (801) 641-6785 or Marvin Match who also teaches the classes locally.

General ICS outline COM (2)

Larry Love teaches Spanish and English CERT classes for Salt Lake City. He grew up in the Rose Park. He and his wife Lizeth have 5 children and enjoy being part of the community. Larry is the Vice President of American Security & Fire, Inc. a local commercial Security and Fire Alarm company. Larry was a Military Policeman in the Utah National Guard for 7.5 years and has also served on 2 committees for the State of Utah at the Governors request. Larry is a current county delegate and a past State Delegate. Larry has been involved with Comunidades Unidas (United Communities) and is a Spanish Medical Interpreter.

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