Tuesday, November 27, 2007

CERT Traffic Team Certification Training

I joined the Charlottesville Community Emergency Response Team last year in the fall with an 8-week basic training class. It covered:

  • Disaster Preparedness
  • Fire Suppression
  • Disaster First Aid
  • Light Search & Rescue
  • Disaster Psychology & CERT Team Organization
  • Terrorism
  • and finally a practice drill
After that session ended, I signed up to get additional training in traffic control, and was able to help out with directing traffic for the annual Toy Lift, which was held at the Fashion Square mall. I wasn't available to assist at other events after that, but did make it to a CERT general meeting this October, which also included some hand-held radio training. We found out shortly after that traffic team members would be able to get certified to work on public roads in late November. I signed up for the two-day class, and today was the first day.

Today's class was taught by Albemarle County Sherriff's Office Sgt. Bobby Shiflett. He is the officer who developed (primarily at the request of Albemarle County Police Dept), and is the primary instructor for, the "certified" traffic control class now being offered by the Central Shenandoah Criminal Justice Academy. Fortunately for me, the class is held at the Academy's satellite facility in Earlysville, about an 8 minute drive.

We learned basic techniques in traffic control--using our whistle and hand signals for daytime, and with a flashlight with attached cone/baton for poor visibility and night-time conditions. We all got to practice what we learned inside, out in the parking lot with a couple cars being driven by Sgt. Shiflett and another man. This particular class is especially for school crossing guards, but all the training is applicable anywhere.

Tomorrow we'll have training on what to do about aggressive dogs, as well as CPR and AED training and certification.

I'm also signed up for a day-long outdoor training in using chain saws, in case there is a disaster such as a hurricane which fells a lot of trees. If they're in the way of emergency vehicles or otherwise causing problems, CERT may be called upon to assist in clearing roads or other areas. That'll be in January--why not in warmer weather, I don't know!

A bit more about CERT from the national website:
The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Program educates people about disaster preparedness for hazards that may impact their area and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations. Using the training learned in the classroom and during exercises, CERT members can assist others in their neighborhood or workplace following an event when professional responders are not immediately available to help. CERT members also are encouraged to support emergency response agencies by taking a more active role in emergency preparedness projects in their community.

And you can look here to see if there's a team in your area.

I like the fact that CERT members can decide how much involvement they can commit to. If we're just more prepared for emergencies in our own neighborhoods or at the workplace, that's fine. If we can help the larger community, that's great, too. Some members were out very early this morning, helping with a search and rescue operation of a hunter who'd gotten lost in the woods yesterday evening--he was found and is in good condition, by the way.

I'll be working at the Toy Lift again this year, so say hi if you see me there, and please don't hit me with your car. :)

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