CERT Volunteers Participate In Training
First responders rush to treat a tornado victim with a gruesome, bloody slash on her neck in the aftermath of a deadly natural disaster. Responders pull others to safety, then assess and assist while being thrust into a traumatizing situation after a tornado swept through the community.
All these scenarios provided lifelike training for first responders, who volunteer to help out their community, should a natural disaster strike.
McDonald County Emergency Management Agency director Gregg Sweeten said the recent exercise provided essential training for those who can find themselves in a variety of situations. CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) offers volunteers an opportunity to train fully for a series of scenarios. In the case of a natural disaster — like a tornado — first responders are trained to assist their communities or nearby communities.
Great makeup on the victims during the exercise gave a real-life effect, Sweeten said.
“We like to make it realistic,” Sweeten said. “We have a makeup kit that was used for the first time by a new fireman.”
The new female firefighter utilized the makeup so six victims would look injured. In the past, training exercises have entailed a “victim” holding a notecard, informing responders of that person’s status or injury.
Having victims look injured and screaming in pain, coupled with dimmed lights, a fog-producing machine, a lighted flare and a downed “power line” all added to the authenticity of the situation.
“We had a couple of people that were kind of scared. There were people screaming. It was pretty intense, but that’s what you’re going to have. We like to make it as life-like as possible,” Sweeten said.
The Pineville Fire Station provided the setting so those who recently completed their CERT training could put their skills into practice.
Sweeten recently conducted two CERT training sessions, which spanned several weeks to complete. One session was held during the day at the emergency management office, and one was held at the McDonald County Courthouse during the evening. Between the two classes, 12 graduates are now fully equipped to handle emergencies in their communities, he said.
Approximately 130 to 140 responders are now trained to aid the county during natural disasters or tragedies. Each school has a trained team, and the high school has two trained teams, Sweeten said.
Anyone interested in becoming involved in CERT may contact Sweeten at the emergency management office to volunteer.
Newly trained CERT volunteers attend to “victim” Kim Bell during an exercise at the Pineville Fire Station. Approximately 130 to 140 volunteers are now trained to help McDonald County during a disaster.