Next week, a training for Deaf individuals to create or join a Community Emergency Response Team will occur at Gallaudet University in the District of Colombia.  The special training is hosted by the Mayor’s Office on Volunteerism, Serve DC, and is described in more detail at the Preparedness for All weblog: Gallaudet Hosts CERT training.

Planning for this pilot training began in earnest several months ago with an observation of a drill using moulage to simulate extensive injuries to victims. That drill brought some already trained CERTs into interaction with some of the District of Columbia’s Fire Department personnel. There are rules and procedures for how volunteers are included in emergency response, especially for large scale disasters.  First responders work with CERTs so that people who want to be able to volunteer in case of a disaster will have already gone through special training that establishes a basic level of skills and understanding about how they fit into the entire system of emergency response and recovery.

The average person does not usually worry about a crisis until it happens (which is why they are called emergencies – they emerge, popping up suddenly, often without warning).  Volunteers are vital to emergency response efforts, but untrained volunteers create a burden that the system has to accommodate on the spot. While just-in-time training is sometimes available, even that requires set-up and delivery.  If just-in-time training is not ready, volunteers wanting to know what to do and how to help divert time and energy from activities that allow First Responders to quickly re-establish control and reduce the chances for loss of life and damage to property.

Gallaudet’s Deaf community is taking a big step in preparing volunteers to be ready and able to help constructively if an emergency happens on campus. Participants in the training earn certification and receive a backpack with some emergency gear. The CERT certification is a national-level qualification to participate in any CERT, which can involve creating a new one or joining an established CERTs in your neighborhood, at your children’s school, in faith-based communities, even at the Deaf club.

There are still some slots available for deaf and hard-of-hearing people associated with Gallaudet or in the larger DC Deaf community. Sign-up now: http://conta.cc/gallaudetcert