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Ashland CERT prepares community for disasters

When disaster strikes, do you know what you will do to be prepared to thrive and not simply survive?

Ashland’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) is a community-based program with a mission and core competency of preparing our community to endure disasters through resiliency only attainable by having the proper understanding of disaster basics and how to be prepared before disaster strikes.

CERT continues to highlight civic engagement, providing free federally created all-hazards curriculum training to the public. This training aims to create well-trained, highly prepared individuals and volunteers willing and capable of supporting Ashland Fire & Rescue’s response missions and other response agencies as well as their own families.

Training involves many components of disasters related to community preparedness in terms of coursework knowledge and skills including disaster medical operations (triage, transport, and treatment of patients), fire suppression, hazardous response, search and rescue and beyond.

CERT trainees are then immersed in a disaster simulation like the one coming up from 1-4 p.m. Saturday, April 21, at 90 North Mountain Ave. incorporating all the classroom skills taught throughout the previous classroom sessions into a mock disaster incident.

This simulation entails a mock environment in preparation of the potential outcomes that an eruption of the Cascadia Subduction Zone Fault could ensue. Outcomes of large catastrophic incidents include mass casualty injuries entailing large wounds with bleeding and the need to control bleeding to save lives, broken bones and sprains and strains that need to be immobilized to reduce further injury, and much more.

Mock victims are used to increase the realism for those who may only have this one training to understand the depth of injuries before an actual disaster strikes.

Ashland residents are encouraged to take part in these free training events to enhance understanding of the many facets of the disaster environment, what individuals can do to be prepared for these events at home, work, and away, how you can obtain assistance if needed, and what you can expect from emergency responders when disasters strike.

This opportunity also provides residents an opportunity to meet employees from Ashland Fire & Rescue and surrounding agencies, including existing CERT volunteers who help facilitate the mock training drill at the culmination of the session. Sessions consist of a four evenings and two Saturday commitment from trainees.

Children ages 14 and above are considered for the training opportunity on a case-by-case basis. If space in the course exists, residents from other communities are also encouraged to participate. Those interested in being a volunteer mock disaster victim are encouraged to contact the CERT Office to learn how to ensure community service hours and much more.

For more information on age requirements, home residency guidelines, volunteering versus participating as a train-and-release participant, or any other inquiry, call the CERT program coordinator at 541-552-2226 or email cert@ashland.or.us. You can also visit us on the web at ashlandcert.org.

Let CERT give you some tips and the training to help you be an effective survivor of a disaster, no matter where you live or travel. Disasters are real and can happen in all parts of the world. They happen quickly and often without warning. Take advantage of opportunities to thrive during these critical events.

— Terri Eubanks is community preparedness coordinator for Ashland Fire & Rescue. The Alarm Box, a column with local public safety information, appears triweekly in the Tidings.