When disaster strikes

Braiden Page practices a head-to-toe patient assessment on Jacob Powell at a Community Emergency Response Team training on Jan. 17 at Mid-Columbia Fire and Rescue. Page volunteers with Mid-Columbia Fire and Rescue where his father, Rob Torrey, is a division chief.

“The worst time to first meet someone is during an emergency.”

Rob Torrey

Division Chief, MCF&R


Volunteers with a local Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) were trained in January for everything from first-aid and “disaster psychology” to proper storage of household chemicals ahead of a disaster.

The newly-formed Mid-Columbia CERT’s trainings on Jan. 10-11 and Jan. 17-18 prepared volunteers for a disaster with presentations and hands-on practice. Volunteers finished the trainings with new skills and a CERT backpack full of disaster response items.

Trainings were facilitated by Mid-Columbia CERT coordinator Lynette Black and Mid-Columbia Fire and Rescue training division chief Rob Torrey and held at Mid-Columbia Fire and Rescue.

In addition to training, Mid-Columbia CERT will continue to meet monthly, Black said. Volunteers learned the basics of disaster response, including first-aid and “cribbing,” or rescuing patients from collapsed structures. They also learned how to prepare their homes to help with disaster response and survival.

Black said volunteers wearing CERT’s signature green vests will help lead the recovery process during a real disaster. “They’re going to be looking to you to establish order and restore that sense of safety,” she told volunteers.

Torrey said preparedness was important to disaster-response. “This is the basic entry to this as a lifelong student,” he said.

Torrey was involved with CERT at his previous job with the Redmond Wash. Fire Department, where he retired four years ago after 31 years with the department. He said the CERT program there had 500 volunteers, and extolled the value of preparing for an organized response.

“The worst time to first meet someone is during an emergency,” Torrey said.

Brian Tuck, a former volunteer firefighter and EMT in The Dalles and Sherman County who attended the training, said he remembers a lack of manpower as a constant theme of volunteering. “We always needed more people,” Tuck said.

“It’s kind of fun to get back into this after all these years,” Tuck said.

Mid-Columbia CERT’s first course trained 10 volunteers, and another course, which meets on Thursdays through Feb. 20, is underway.

Black, who has 20 years of CERT experience, was the coordinator of Clackamas CERT when she moved to The Dalles 11 years ago. She tried to get a CERT program going after the move but didn’t find enough interest locally.

Now, Black said, more people want to get involved and she has received a grant for a cache of response equipment. Another round of basic CERT training takes place Monday, March 9 through Friday, March 13 from 1-5 p.m.

Contact Black at lynette.black@oregonstate.edu or 503-806-7132 for training registration or more information on Mid-Columbia CERT. For general information about CERT visit www.ready.gov/cert.

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