On Saturday afternoon, May 2, anyone driving through the Dominican neighborhood in San Rafael would wonder at the sense of urgency observed as teams of green-vested “rescuers” proceeded into the neighborhood. The green vests and helmets identified them as CERT members, who were practicing the skills they had reviewed all morning.
The Annual Marin County CERT Disaster Exercise began at 12:45 pm. For the next 90 minutes, over 40 CERT graduates practiced a disaster response to a major earthquake. This was the first time the annual exercise was conducted in a neighborhood. The scenario started with participants setting up a Command Post using a staged supply cache. Tables were set up, paperwork distributed, roles assigned, medical treatment area and supplies distributed, while the response teams prepared to deploy.
The exercise included 13 volunteer victims, including some San Rafael High School students, stationed throughout the neighborhood, complete with simulated injury make-up. 20 CERTs were deployed in response teams of four, to locate the victims and, mentored by members of Mill Valley and San Rafael Fire Departments, escort them to a treatment site at the Command Post at Trinity Community Church. Additionally, signs were posted on mailboxes indicating damage to property, as one of the CERT roles is to report back a damage assessment to their city officials.
The medical treatment area was staffed by CERT graduates and mentored by members of the Marin Medical Reserve Corp. The exercise moved at a fast pace, testing skills and procedures. We train to learn and keep our skills sharp. It was a great day for all involved.
Community Emergency Response Team is a national program under FEMA. These citizen first responders will be a great resource to the city should a major disaster occur. Professional fire and law enforcement personnel will be overwhelmed if our residents and structures are severely impacted by an event such as a large earthquake. CERTs are trained to establish a command post, implement the FEMA-based Incident Command System and initiate a response to neighborhood needs. The training is 18 hours and costs $45.
More information and class dates are available at www.readymarin.org/cert.