What Would You Do In An Emergency? Campbell County Emergency Management Wants to Find Out

(Gillette, Wyo.) Have you ever actually used a fire extinguisher? That's one of the hands-on activities that happens during CERT, or Community Emergency Response Team, classes. The program is an eight week course designed to prepare the general public for disaster response, search and rescue, and other situations that may necessitate citizens assisting in a calamitous situation. [image: 20160209_202053.jpg] *An hour of classroom work a week is essential to helping residents learn everything they can about safety in their own homes.* The training is in its second week at the Alan Mickelson Fire Training Center in Gillette. Fifteen or so students meet every Tuesday to discuss everything from how to handle the fuse box in your home to the different types of fires you may encounter. Last night they learned "P.A.S.S." -- the steps for handling a fire extinguisher. That's "Pull, Aim, Squeeze, and Sweep," a method for quickly blanketing flames with fire retardant. The program is important not only because it readies everyday residents for more common home emergencies, but other major events. "The real first responders are John Q. Public," said firefighter and CERT instructor David King. "FEMA says 60% of the injuries from a major disaster are secondary to the event. They're from people trying to help." King says that the last time they had a CERT program in Campbell County was the early 2000's. Part of the delay in having another round of training is the effort it takes to host it. But it's been important to the county: 2 Rookie Firefighters of the Year have come from the CERT program here, and 7 CERT students went on to become EMTs for the county. Not to mention that Gillette's Firehouse #1 is the Regional Response Team for Crook, Weston, Sheridan, Johnson, and Campbell Counties when it comes to a serious hazmat situation. For CERT, it's more about knowing when to help and when to let the professionals take over. "I call it Boy Scout training for grown-ups," says King. Next week, for instance, the group will get "medical training," but nothing as extensive as CPR. It's more learning how to bandage someone up or make them a splint until trained emergency medical personnel arrive on-scene. [image: 20160209_204912.jpg] *Firefighters demonstrate how to use a fire hose. Every student has a "buddy" that's responsible for watching their back.* At the end of the course, participants will take a written test and then do a hands-on run through of what they'd actually be expected to know and do during an emergency. People will have to break themselves off in to teams, set up stations, and solve the problem they're given as though they were on their own during a crisis. The hands-on portion of the training, says King, is important because people don't necessarily want to spend two hours a week being lectured to without a practical application of what they've learned. The hope is that CCFD will be able to have CERT training once a year from now on, with perhaps weekend refresher courses available to those who have taken the program in the past. #county17 #news *Feature photo: Citizen trainees work with Campbell County Firefighters to put out a fire correctly using just a fire extinguisher.* -- *Brenda Kirk* Community Maven for | 614.940.7121 Twitter | Instagram | Facebook PitchEngine™ | *Connecting Communities* | Twitter | Facebook