CERT Vol­un­teers Par­tic­i­pate In Train­ing

McDonald County Press - - FRONT PAGE - Sally Car­roll

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.

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