Thursday, March 20, 2008

New Classes Starting Up!

Next week, the classes that are happening at the Fire Academy are starting. Please review the calendar (at the bottom of the page) and see if you can help!

Also, we talk a lot in the beginning about the importance of the "customization" of your gear. If you have some products that you swear by (say, a great pair of safety goggles or kneepads), please leave a comment and a link or two attached to this posting so we can pass it on to our newest class members.



  1. I invested in a pair of pants because I was just wearing out my jeans (ok, I've been doing this for a while)! Mike Forgy recommended 5.11 tactical pants ( that I special ordered through Ranger Surplus since I'm not an "off-the-rack" size. I love all the pockets and I don't care how beat up they get.

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  3. I agree with Cathleen, a good pair of pants are important, as well as a great pair of boots with safety features like a steel toe and ankle support.

    My best investment was the "sling bag" (similar to this one, I preferred it over the standard backpack. It offers a little more mobility and has tons of pockets to keep my supplies in order. Plus I was able to add carabiners for duct tape and extra supplies.

  4. I also highly recommend the KNEEPADS which fit into the 5.11 TDU trousers. The 5.11 Tactical vest is also idea for carrying the small items and personel gear which you use most often.

  5. To add on to the 5.11 Tactical bandwagon. I have baught at both GUNS & AMMO WAREHOUSE (Manassas) and CASUAL ADVENTURE (Arlington). Both offer discounts to members of CERT and other GSAR teams. Add to it that to cost of your CERT gear is tax deductable (if you itemize).

  6. Safety glasses: I have been a fan of Bolle for years (Greg LaMond wore them to his Tour de France victories). In the Sport Collecten there are two models, Parole and Vigilante, Both will accept prescription lense inserts (RxSOS, $26 for insert plus cost of prescription lenses). Added bonus is that the sunglass lenses are easily replacable with several options to suit lighting conditions. I mostly use the clear lenses. SES package ($119) includes four sets of different lenses.

  7. Flashlights: carry at least two. One head light aimed at your feet to see where you are stepping and one handheld to use for searching. I carry three handheld flashlights, technically four if you count the pen light for map reading and medical use. I have had a flashlight fail in the field on a mission which is why I carry backups and there have been times when a daytime mission rolls over into night time and there are emergent volunteers on the team that did not bring flashlights. For CERT, flashlight battery type is a critical decision. Just about every household has a TV, satellite/cable, DVD or stereo remote, most of these are not powered by D and C size batteries. If it comes down to scrounging for batteries for your flashlight, stick with double and triple A's.

  8. Personal medical kit: this is for you or your Team's medical emergencies. You get injured for some reason then your team should rifle through your pack and treat you with the medical supplies you are carrying (hopefully better supplies than duct tape and rags). If the need calls then the team members should pool their personal medical kits for your treatment.

  9. I picked up my personal medical kit at REI. It is the Adventure Medical Ultralight .9 First Aid Kit that comes in two submersible water tight bags. I augmented the Adventure Medical Wound Closure Kit.

  10. I agree. Everyone who attends CERT should wear pants. But do people need to go out and spend all this money when they start CERT? After the class will they EVER EVER use it? And I need to go to a gun store or ranger stores to get some of these expensive supplies? If we need these things or they are recommended then supply them for us as part of our equipment, not the cheap stuff that we may get hurt using because we cannot see out of our goggles.

  11. I would like to address a couple of things with the last post by anonymous.

    No you really don't need to go to some of the extremes a few of us in previous CERT classes have gone through. Some of us do other things other than CERT (Urban Rescue, Community Volunteers etc) and these items have spilled over into our CERT training as valuable assets.

    You can wear jeans, camo pants (picked up from your local surplus store) or what ever is comfortable and durable. Supplies can be picked up anywhere. My favorite gloves came from Wal-Mart! The instructors will assist you where they think should add and embellish your supplies.

    I personally did not go and spend an arm and a leg on supplies prior to class. I used the items provided and gradually over time and with additional training added items I felt made things easier on me.

    CERT offers the community a great foundation of knowledge where, in a situation if needed, we will know what to do to help our family, friend and neighbors. I promise during that time none of us will spend the extra 30 minutes needed to throw on all of our fashionable gear.

    Keep with the basics, make sure you pay attention in class and soak up everything possible. What you do with it will be most important thing when needed.

  12. Medical gloves: CERT is big on personal protection and always wearing bodily fluid protection over the eyes, mouth, nose and hands. Over the years of automotive tinkering and wilderness first aid I have come to the conclusion that nitrile gloves stand up to a lot more abuse than the latex equivalents.

  13. Anon is correct about the pant. I live by the phrase, “practice how you play.” If you wear a suit and tie to work then show up to CERT class ready to roll in a suit and tie. But the key point to Disaster Preparedness is being prepared and in my CERT pack I have a set of extra clothing (pants, shirt, underwear, socks, rain jacket, rain pants).

  14. You don't need to buy anything pricey. In fact, if you can suffer through the provided gear, go for it. However, for safety purposes you have to WEAR the gear to protect yourself. If you can't see with the goggles provided, you will want to invest in a pair you will wear.

    Personally, I think your best investment is ensuring your tetanus booster is up to date.

    Wear old clothes. You will get duct tape and sharpie on your pants. (my women's jeans also tore through the knee though the all the kneeling.) These should be free (unless you are me!)

    Bring rags for bandages and dressings (these should be free -- time to clean house)

    Medical gloves -- you do need these but I use mine for all sorts of things from protecting my hands when I paint to using them to prep Jalapenos (not the same pair of course!).

    Work gloves -- don't have to be expensive but you DO need to be able to work without taking them off.

    Duct tape - a high quality brand. has lots of uses around the house too. :)

    Boots/shoes - I invested in steel toed boots and I've used them lots (actually, they've become my winter boots). You could work in sneakers but, given the academy grounds, I wouldn't.

    Paper and pen and some type of clipboard (or other hard surface). You should have some at home.


    Dust masks - you get some. You will probably need more.

    Kneepads -- I use the ones they gave me.

    Flashlight -- they one they provided doesn't do much -- and a spare is always important.

    Here is the list of the provided gear I broke or went through during my cert 9 class:

    1.) the flashlight was dead in the 2nd glass when it fell on to the high bay floor and shattered.

    2.) Kneepads - my strap came off about halfway through class -- they work but only by duct-taping them to my pants.

    3.) dust masks -- one per class and I needed more.

    4.) sharpies -- I've lost a couple in the dark

  15. To spend or not to spend......

    There are some super!! comments on this blogpost; so I thought I'd throw in my two cents (adjusted for inflation, of course :)

    "But do people need to go out and spend all this money when they start CERT?" After the class will they EVER EVER use it?"

    No, you don't have to spend bundles of bucks on gear. The basic gear issue is a kernel, a "seed" supply if you will. You can leave it as it sits, or you may wish to embellish your gear to provide better comfort,safety and usefulness levels. The basic gear is good, it's purely a matter of personal preference to add your own gear. It's not required! But, if you want to add gear, go for it.

    I tend to lean towards buying surplus items for a few reasons:
    1.The armed services have already tested the stuff in extreme environments.
    2.It's cheap to buy!!
    3. If it rips or breaks, you don't have much invested in the item; toss it and get another one.

    Personally, I like the "thrill of the hunt" in finding a well made piece of gear I need at the price I want to pay (as little as possible).

    There are some items I won't scrimp on though, here's a few of them.

    1. A headlamp. Being able to see in dark, smoky environments area is a MUST. The flashlights given in the gear issue just didn't cut it for me; so I went and got a really nice headlamp made by Petzl. (Interested in gear recommendations? Talk to Steve, Mike or Derek-they are a wealth of useful information!)I paid 20 bucks for my headlamp on Ebay.

    2. A shoulder bag-Mine is .mil surplus; cost me the princely sum of $ 2.50.With the stuff in my hardhat and in the bag; I can help people immediately. I use my CERT bag for extra water,batteries,duct tape, food, rope etc.Plus, I can move more freely without a CERT pack on my back.I carry the CERT backpack and toss it down when I find a victim; pick it back up when I'm done and move on.

    3.Duct tape- You can never have enough of it. You can catch it on sale all the time.

    4.Retractable Sharpies-Again,I can't get enough sharpies.

    5, Backup flashlight-I use a mini maglite with the LED conversion and keep it in my shoulder bag. In my pack I carry one of those crank type flashlights that needs no batteries.

    6.Batteries!-A tip for you;standardize the main light you use and your backup lights on one type of battery size. Keep PLENTY of spare batteries.

    7. PPE-Don't scrimp on personal protective equipment. Good outer gloves, good hardhat and safety goggles, and good masks are essential for your personal safety. You can get a good pair of steel toed boots at Walmart for $ 29.99 a pair; these other items can be found on sale if you look for them.

    8. Good radios!!! In an emergency I want the best chance to communicate as possible.

    "After the class will they EVER EVER use it?""
    A good question; CERT's may, or may not ever have the oppurtunity to use their gear. Actually, that would be the ideal situation; because that would mean that all is right with the world........
    But, should something occur that requires CERT to go into the field......I'll be REALLY glad that I have added some well chosen additional pieces of gear.

    your volunteer PIO

    That's my two cents on gear.


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