• Michael Thornton

Why you should get CERT trained.

Hello everyone! Today I will be talking about CERT and the importance of being CERT trained if you are a storm chaser, storm spotter, or even a normal civilian. So you may be wondering. What exactly is CERT? Community Emergency Response Team otherwise known as CERT is a program that was made by the Los Angeles Fire Department in 1985 and in 1993 was made part of FEMA's offerings to communities nationwide. The point of CERT is to train and educate people on disaster preparedness. This includes learning how to do search and rescue, how to perform medical procedures during a disaster, and they also teach you about fire safety along with a few other things. CERT classes are usually offered by a local Fire Department or by an Emergency Management office in your county. The best part? This program is absolutely free to citizens!

Why get CERT trained?

Bleachers thrown 100 feet into a house. - Oklahoma City, OK April 2017

In 2017 I began to chase more frequently, that meant that I was around storm damage more often. On May 16th, 2017 I chased an EF-2 tornado that went through Southeastern parts of Elk City, OK. I arrived on scene minutes after the tornado had destroyed the Southeastern part of the city. I felt absolutely helpless. Fast forward to February of 2019 I had read a few forums on a website for weather enthusiast's about this thing called "CERT". I looked up "CERT Oklahoma" on google and saw that the Moore, OK Emergency Management had a class available that started in April. Immediately I sent an email to one of the coordinators to sign up for the class. My class met two times a week from 6pm until 10pm for four weeks straight. In those four weeks I was taught how to turn off a gas meter, how to put out a fire, how to safely perform light search and rescue, how to do medical procedures after a disaster has occurred, and I also learned about disaster psychology.

On the last day of my CERT class the Moore Emergency Management put us through a mock scenario. We had to go into "buildings" that had lost power and rescue real life people who had been in a tornado. When I entered the first room I was called over to help a "wounded" person. We decided to splint his injured leg to a piece of wood using duct tape. I then picked the man up and put him onto a chair so that we could do a chair carry which I had learned how to do by taking this CERT class. After we safely extracted the "wounded" person I went to the next room. I saw that the next room was on "fire" so I grabbed a fire extinguisher and quickly put the fire out. The room after that had a person who was pinned to the ground by a large filing cabinet. I began looking for, and giving people pieces of lumber to use for cribbing. Once we got the person out from under the filing cabinet we had completed the mock scenario. By taking this CERT class not only did it help me become very confident in myself knowing that I am now prepared to help in the event of a natural disaster, but I also met some really awesome people because of the class.

So why should you get CERT trained? Being trained in CERT will give you the right amount of knowledge to be able to help somebody in the event of a serious natural disaster and CERT will also help you learn skills that you can use at home in the event of a injury or fire. People who chase and spot storms should really look into getting CERT trained as sometimes we are the first on scene during and after a natural disaster has occurred and being trained in CERT could potentially save somebodies life. No longer will I ever feel helpless if I come across tornadic or straight line storm damage in the future because taking this CERT class gave me the right amount of knowledge to know what to do. I would like to thank Gayland Kitch and Debi Wagner of the Moore Emergency Management for teaching me how to be prepared in the event that a tornado strikes another town or house as well as for having a CERT class available to the public.

Thank you for reading.


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