Neighborhood readiness will be critical in a disaster. Knowing your neighbors, having a emergency meeting place and a plan will help reduce the inherent stress of a disaster. The Gerstle Park neighborhood in San Rafael, led by CERT graduate Amy Likeover, has held two drills this year to practice skills with CERTs and volunteers.

The first drill in August included 12 volunteers comprised of CERT, MMRC and Resilient Neighborhood trainees along with Gerstle Park Block Captains. The group met at the emergency meeting place, aptly named Gerstle Park, for a one-hour Scenario Drill.

CERT Coordinator Maggie Lang, Dominican Neighborhood CERT Paula Doubleday, and San Rafael Fire Department Battalion Chief Jeff Rowan de-briefed on the what and how to react to disaster scenarios. The roles in the Incident Command System were assigned and then scenarios discussed to visually demonstrate how information and tasks are communicated.

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On November 15 the group met again, this time with 16 volunteers for a one-hour first aid drill. San Rafael Fire Department Captain Jason Hatfield, Engineer Evan Minard, FF/PM Mike Lewis, Shawn Gordon and Matt Chandra along with Battalion Chief Jeff Rowan taught how to stop bleeding, set splints and move an injured person away from danger.

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The CERT training teaches all of these skills, but unless you refresh and practice, the skills may be lost. Advanced training and neighborhood drills are the best way to stay current. Good work Gerstle Park!