The hour of 5:00am on a Saturday had me awake and trying not to break egg yolks as I was preparing to head out for my last CERT session and drill for the training class I’d been attending for the past seven weeks. I just can’t believe it’s already been seven weeks! I had to be at the fire house for 7:30am, a pretty miserable hour for me normally as I’m usually still asleep. Nevertheless, I was up and excited at what the day would bring.
We spent the first part of the morning in a full review of what we’d learned over the course of the training, and then headed out to the drill site. The location was a moderately sized house and garage, and we were informed that there had been a gas explosion. We circled the buildings to initially assess damage, and discovered that the garage had major roof damage, what appeared to be a stray cable lying over part of the yard, a broken electrical box, and lots of broken windows. We also checked to see if the gas was turned off. (We also happened to notice some bullet holes in some glass panes that remained in the windows, likely left over from some other group’s previous training exercises. We didn’t have to worry about those for ours. )
A bloodied person came around the corner of the house screaming for help, and we divided up into various teams for a search and rescue operation. My partner and I had areas of the first floor. We didn’t realize flashlights were available, so once we were inside, we were slowly moving around the walls in the dark, calling out and searching for possible victims. We came across something that felt like a body, and it was so dark in there, I wasn’t sure if there was only one or two in that location as it was halfway buried under something. We “tagged” it and moved on.
A noise alerted us to someone beneath some debris in a dark corner. We found a woman who was hurt and panicked for her children. Since she was able to walk, we were able to get her outside to the area set up for medical triage. She kept trying to turn to get back inside the house, believing her children were still in there.
The people playing most of the victims were teenagers from one of the area schools who had organized a CERT team there. The fire chief’s little girl was also playing one of the victims and she was really cute walking around when it was over with fake blood running down her leg. She seemed to be having a great time! The “victims” all did a fantastic acting job to make the scenario as real as possible. One guy even had some metal rods stuck through one of his calves. They had all been “doctored” up pretty good.
We debriefed for a bit afterwards and discussed what we did well and where we could have improved, and then headed back to the fire house where we received our certificates. I just loved these CERT classes and am really going to miss them. However, there will be monthly meetings as well as other events and classes that I can attend to continue my training, so the ending of the class is really only an exciting beginning! I’ll end this post with a photo of my certificate:
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