In the aftermath of a disaster, community members can make a critical difference in the lives of their neighbors.
On Saturday at an East County school, more than 100 members from at least 20 Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) based throughout the County will participate in an annual disaster drill for these trained neighborhood volunteers.
“In disasters, community members may need to help each other before emergency responders arrive,” said County Supervisor Dianne Jacob. “Our County’s CERT volunteers are great neighbors who have taken it upon themselves to get special training and practice so they’ll be ready to protect themselves, their families and their neighbors in an emergency.”
This year’s Countywide CERT exercise will simulate a community response to a strong earthquake. At Mountain Empire High School in Pine Valley between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., CERT members will practice responding to 100 “victims” portrayed by community members, including students from the high school.
San Diego Rural CERT is leading the exercise planning, assisted by other local CERT groups and the San Diego County Office of Emergency Services, which is responsible for coordinating emergency preparedness and emergency response readiness in the region.
As part of their training, CERT members work with first responders to learn basic disaster preparedness and response skills, including how to suppress small fires, assess the medical condition of a victim, administer basic first aid, conduct light search and rescue, and quickly organize an effective volunteer emergency response team.
Saturday’s simulation will reinforce these skills with a scenario that includes victims who are injured and confused, unconscious, conscious but immobile, trapped, or only suffering from minor injuries.
San Diego Gas & Electric and Ready America are sponsoring the exercise. Local law enforcement and fire agencies staffing the drill include the San Diego Rural Fire Protection District, CAL FIRE, the Campo Fire Department, the City of San Diego Fire-Rescue Department, Poway Fire Department, San Diego County Sheriff’s Department Senior Volunteers, the U.S. Border Patrol, the U.S. Forest Service-Cleveland National Forest and the Viejas Fire Department.