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(Holding classes twice a week at the Academy is a relatively new model for our program, and it seems to be working well. CERTs get through the entire program in a month, and training seems to build up faster... despite the fact that students receive the same 25 hours of classroom and hands-on training as in the weekly class setting.)
CERT 94 kicked off with Class 1, which was all about introductions -- to the Academy, to their classmates, to the CERT concept, and to the hazards they may encounter in the community and during a disaster.
The students also received their CERT helmets and backpacks:
|CERTs of Class 94 during their first class at the Academy. All photos: Joe Loong|
|Adjunct Instructor John Mayers acts as Incident Commander during the students' first drill.|
Beginning with Class 3, things started to get a lot more hands-on... and complicated. In their opening drill, the students started to encounter simulated victims -- both plywood and human -- that they had to deal with. Their subsequent classroom instruction built on this, introducing the CERTs to Disaster Medical Operations, or how to save lives and care for patients in a mass casualty scenario where professional responders are delayed.
|CERTs gather simulated victims (plywood "gingerbread" people) in the High Bay during the drill.|
|CERTs maneuver a simulated victim (a plywood "gingerbread" dummy) down the stairs of a burn building.|
After their opening drill (which again, built on everything the CERTs had previously learned), Class 5 was all about hazards, ranging from those they might find in the community, to ones at disaster scenes, to the threat of terrorism, to very real but invisible hazards like debilitating stress.
|My patient's-eye-view while being carried on a blanket stretcher by a transport team.|
|CERTs practice lifting and cribbing techniques on a stable load, to which Volunteer Instructor Edgar Rodriguez has added his weight.|
Two days later, the CERTs of Class 94 gathered for Class 7, their final exercise, where they had to put together everything they've learned -- from setting up Command, Accountability, Logistics, & Medical; to doing scene size-up; treating, triaging, and tagging patients in under 30 seconds; and everything else.
Plus, they had to do it facing live human victim actors made up with realistic moulage (fake wound makeup):
|Victim actors show off their simulated wounds (contusions and lacerations).|
Then came the drill, where CERTs had to respond to a storm-ravaged apartment building and begin rescue operations, finding, treating, and caring for the survivors they encountered.
|CERT rescuers perform a walking assist to get a survivor to Medical.|
|A CERT rescuer treats a survivor, applying an occlusive dressing to a simulated sucking chest wound.|
|CERTs shut off a simulated natural gas supply line (with a SCBA air tank providing hissing sound effects).|
Finally, after a "hot wash" debrief, the CERTs completed their graduation final exercise at the Fire Academy, May 13, 2015.
|Congratulations to the CERTs of Fairfax County CERT Class 94!|
CERT training is free and open to people who live or work in Fairfax County. For more information about CERT training, either at the Fire Academy or at locations throughout the community, see About CERT Training.
Joe Loong is a Blog Editor and Social Media Specialist for Fairfax County CERT. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org