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Our Laguna: Working on their CERT-ification

April 12, 2012|By Barbara Diamond
  • CERT volunteers practice the chair carry technique assisted by Firefighter Jerme Lazar and Phil Robinson of Doctor's Ambulance.
CERT volunteers practice the chair carry technique assisted… (Photo by Stephen…)

Members of the city's Emergency Disaster Preparedness Committee were seen poking into rooms, alcoves and closets at the Susi Q on Wednesday night — and for good reason.

They were among the 34 participants taking the CERT course, learning that night how to conduct searches for disaster victims inside and outside a building.

CERT stands for Community Emergency Response Team. The program helps prepare people to respond to emergency situations in their communities. Classes are taught by first-responders and a CERT-trained leader.

"In a disaster like the Bluebird Canyon landslide, we rely on assistance from other communities to help our police and fire department, but if the 'big one' hits, Laguna could be isolated," said Police Lt. Darin Lenyi, the program's supervisor. "CERT gives us a pool of trained emergency disaster response volunteers to assist the police, firefighters and the community."

The course began March 21 and will conclude May 5. It consists of six, 2.5-hour classes on Wednesday nights and one Saturday class. No absences are allowed.

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"We are required to complete 25 hours of training," said Sue Kempf, chairwoman of the Emergency Disaster Preparedness Committee.

Committee members Matt Lawson, Gary Beverage, Sandi Cain and John Kountz, chief of Laguna's Emergency Radio operators, known as Hams, are also enrolled. Committee members David Horne and Dave Sanford already have already completed the program, and Ann Quilter is out of town. Richard Picheny is not participating because of a conflict with travel plans.

"The committee is very engaged in the development of neighborhood organization to prepare for emergencies, and this training is one aspect of that," said Councilwoman Elizabeth Pearson, who originated the committee and serves as its council liaison.

The City Council approved $2,500 for the training class, but the committee will look for additional funding, according to Kempf.

When emergencies happen, CERT members can give critical support to first-responders, provide immediate assistance and comfort to victims, and organize spontaneous volunteers at a disaster site.

Training includes disaster preparedness, fire safety, basic disaster medical operations, traffic control and scene management, terrorism awareness, disaster psychology, and light search & rescue operations.

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