It’s been another long day. Usually on Fridays work is a little slower; there are fewer classes and less students on campus. Today, however, I had several appointments and meetings which took up the bulk of my time. One item late in my day was a training for C-CERT (Campus Community Emergency Response Team).
CERT is a program under FEMA that educates people to help in disasters. CERT teams can be called upon to help first responders in times of crises. College’s adopted the program and train employees to be available in case of disasters not only on campus, but also within the community. During our initial training, we learned about being prepared at work as well as at home, fire safety, chemical hazards, medical operations, search and rescue, disaster psychology, and terrorism threats. We learned about the command structure of a disaster setting. We had to become certified in CPR and First Aid. And after many training days, we had a simulation. Our theatre department recruited volunteer actors to serve as victims and we had a mock search and rescue. We deployed as teams to a couple of on-campus warehouses (the theatre department’s storage facilities) and looked for survivors of a tornado, the most likely disaster to hit our area. Complete with hardhats, radios, and backpacks of supplies we figured out the best ways to cover as much area as possible in the shortest amount of time, evaluated whether the “victims” we found needed immediate medical assistance or could be delayed. Some we marked as dead. Everything we did had to be organized and reported and only after the buildings were searched were we sent back to try to recover those we had previously found.
It was a pretend situation for us, but it was still sobering. And every time we have continuous training or additional simulations we are reminded of the fact that if it were real, we would searching for our colleagues and friends. It’s a horrible thought. Of course, we usually go about our day not even considering it. I pray our training is never needed. But every day we hear or read about a tragedy somewhere, on campuses or off. I’m thankful to be part of the team.