CERT stands for Community Emergency Response Team. It is a group of community volunteers trained by West Pierce Fire & Rescue’s finest how to assist in case of a wide spread disaster. From the West Pierce website, “The idea behind this model is to teach people in neighborhoods how to help each other in the first few minutes or hours following a disaster – before emergency responders are able to get to them to render professional help.”
The training consists of six (three hour long) classes followed a four-hour practical exercise on a Saturday. In an effort to make the practical exercise as realistic as possible, previous CERT trainees are invited to serve as victims. My daughter Brenna and I showed up at the appointed time one recent Saturday. A handful of fellow CERT grads were then given a malady to act out and receive make-up for the current CERT 33 team.
Shock and Aww
It took a couple hours for everyone to get their make-up applied by fellow volunteers.
A huge part of CERT training is how to simply “being there” for your neighbors. If this area was hit by a disaster, and if a CERT member is able and willing, they make themselves available to West Pierce Fire & Rescue. Oftentimes that will be serving as a compassionate shoulder to lean on.
Injuries in the practical exercise run the gamut. From physical to mental, the exercise really tests the CERT team.
Where’s My Pencil?
Some of the make-up is more gory than others.
After the exercise, the CERT team gathers to assess what went right and wrong. Participants are amazed how quickly the intensity ramps up. With people moaning or screaming or wandering around in shock the event gets very intense.
If you’re interested in learning more, check out the CERT page on the West Pierce Fire & Rescue website.