Last Saturday's field day for the Community Emergency Response Team was special for more reasons than usual.
The local residents gathered at Fire Station No. 4 to practice the skills they learned throughout the four-week course—like extinguishing a fire, disaster medical aid, and search and rescue—and to receive their certificates.
But someone among this, the 30th group to complete CERT, was the 1,000 graduate of the program, an accomplishment that acknowledges the "significant investment by this community in emergency response," said Fire Chief Brad Wardle who dropped by to congratulate the class and the Emergency Coordinator Lynn Brown.
"CERT is there for the community when the fire department is not coming, you've now seen why," he said. "I will submit that is true, but that you will become an extension of what we do. That's important for us. We will count on you."
The CERT course teaches that in a disaster, the MVFD may not be able to get to everyone for various reasons—assisting with a major fire or possible down trees—so the CERT teams will be the first to help their community. There are currently 16 CERT teams organized around the city, that could help 23 percent of the population. (See .pdf above for contacts.)
"I learned a lot," said Laura Daener. "I was expecting to do CPR and stuff like that but in a disaster it's about helping the whole community."
"It's not just one person; It's not about heroics," she said.
Daener and her husband, David Anderson, had never taken first aid classes felt the medical operations class of the CERT program was the most useful as was learning to put out a fire safely.
"Flames are hot and they blows towards you!" Laura said.
As employees, they already had small earthquake kits with the "bare minimums." But after CERT they will both get better prepared.
"We will definitely get more things," Daener said. "We'll have an emergency plan, which we'll tell my parents. We have a pet and we'll stock up on pet food too."
CERT classes take place several times a year on Tuesday and Thursday evenings at the Fire Administration Building at 1000 Villa St. The next class starts on Sept. 13. Registration takes place online.