As many of you know, what’s great about volunteering is it’s not only the act of kindness of donating your time to help benefit others in your community but it gives you an incredible rush of feel-good! I find the hardest aspect of volunteering for most is what to volunteer for and how to get started and totally understand that so I say the best thing to do is Google it, find something you do the best, and then just do it! While you’re looking through that list may I bring something to your attention that you may never have considered? Become a CERT – Community Emergency Response Team
As the name reflects, in the event of a natural disaster such as a flood, wildfire, earthquake, tornado, or manmade catastrophe like a natural gas explosion, thanks to the training you’ll receive, you will be able to assist your neighbors with first aid, guidance, communication, and reassurance during those initial minutes after which is critical until emergency responders are able to get to your neck of the woods.
Why is this important? As we have seen of late you can not count on your local, city, or state officials to be prepared let alone able to respond. Large cities like NYC have fabulous central command centers staffed with well-trained leaders directing other well-trained, dedicated professionals, ready and able to respond to any emergency scenario. Smaller cities do not have that luxury thanks to budget cuts, covid and other circumstances on any given shift there are only so many firefighters on duty. They must safely handle house fires, other structure fires, vehicle crashes, grass fires, and other emergencies, and even with the heroic efforts of first responders throw in a good-sized earthquake and they can be quickly overwhelmed.
Once that happens 911 will be forced to begin triage of all the emergency calls responding to the most serious while minor injuries and emergencies are put on hold. If the roads and bridges are not usable after the quake they won’t even be able to count on backup from the other shifts as many first responders live out of town. Mutual aid will not arrive as they’ll be too busy with their own town’s emergencies.
However, if you have done your homework correctly as a CERT you have previously instructed your neighbors on being prepared for such a day by having them assemble and store emergency kits with batteries, portable chargers, water, blankets, and food in each home. A CERT is also trained to give minor first aid, triage patients’ needs, and give aid and comfort in more serious conditions until the cavalry arrives. Working together you can ensure you and your neighbors will have a better chance of surviving a catastrophe and there is no rule that there can be only one CERT per neighborhood, the more the better. I became a CERT in 2016 and have enjoyed the monthly meetings and every other aspect of the experience immensely. Even if this is not your cup of tea, at least make sure you and your family assemble an emergency kit/to-go bag.