CERT receives fire department accolades
Ramona’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) received accolades from the Ramona Fire Department at the volunteer organization’s Christmas potluck.
CalFire Capt. Robert McLaughlin with the Ramona department presented certificates of appreciation during the team’s meeting in the Ramona Library on Dec. 22: Don Scott, Richard Elling, Jolene Dayton, Dave Smith, Philip Savage, Kathy Brown and Barry Davis. Member Brad Fisher also received a certificate but was not present at the meeting.
In addition, McLaughlin presented the team with new generators and lights for the command vehicle and operations trailer.
“We cannot express the importance of a group such as this enough,” said McLaughlin, who coordinates Ramona CERT efforts. “You all help us to do our jobs, knowing there are people taking care of the details.”
CERT, commended for its response during the wildfires, provides basic safety, crowd control at concerts, traffic safety during the chamber’s Main Street Safe Trick or Treat event, and more.
The main goal of the CERT program is to provide a group of first responders, trained in various safety aspects necessary in emergency situations. The volunteers are trained in extended first aid/onsite triage support, small fire control, search and rescue and much more.
“These people show up on short notice,” said McLaughlin. “They continue to show up for training and keep on doing what they are supposed to do, month after month, in preparation for an event everyone hopes never happens.”
The additional assistance of trained first responders in emergency situations provides a level of triage that then frees medical personnel to respond to those with more serious needs during a true emergency, said McLaughlin.
Dave Smith, for instance, is the emergency safety coordinator for the Ramona Terrace Estates mobile home park in addition to being a CERT member.
“It is a 220-unit park,” said CERT team leader Don Scott. “Dave is always there, on call 24/7. He will be there no matter what.”
Smith kept tabs on all 220 units during the Witch fire evacuations of 2007, said Scott. “Some people stayed; some people left but without their pets.”
Smith coordinated the security of all 220 units, knocking on each door to ensure pets were fed and cared for, residents had food and water, and making sure no one tried to enter vacant homes.
Whether CERT members are installing smoke detectors, evaluating flooded road conditions or guarding the safety of the community, the volunteers are considered an imperative part of the internal framework for the effectiveness of rapid response.
Once a week, CERT members make radio contact over the shortwave system and the Family Radio Service (FRS) network. The radio test ensures the operability of the communication systems already in place, which allow the Fire Department to contact Scott to mobilize the team.
History demonstrates the challenge faced by first responders who provide fire and medical services to meet the demand during a large-scale disaster. Factors such as number of victims, communication failures and road blocks often prevent emergency services to be immediately available to some victims. It is in this type of crisis situation that people will have to rely on each other to meet life-sustaining needs.
CERT training meetings are held the fourth Tuesday of each month in the Ramona Library Community Room.
For more information about CERT training or volunteering “behind the scenes” for the team, contact Don Scott at 760-788-6932.
Those interested in CERT training in the San Diego County area may contact Palomar College for the schedule of classes.
FRS Testing Net is Wednesdays from 7:30 to 8 p.m. on Family Radio Service Channel 1.
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