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Community Emergency Response Training by Matt Anderson

Mathew Anderson

When it comes to caring for our residents and keeping them safe, The Kensington is constantly planning, implementing, and refining procedures for a wide variety of foreseeable scenarios and eventualities.  Here in Southern California, we are certainly no strangers to the power of Mother Nature; wildfires, Santa Ana winds, and especially earthquakes are a constant threat to our communities.  Emergency preparedness and plans for natural disasters were developed long before KSM opened our doors to our residents and families, but these scenarios can be extremely difficult to practice and prepare for in any realistic fashion.  We are very fortunate then to have the Sierra Madre CERT team offering trainings that several of our team members have attended.

The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program is designed by FEMA and seeks to educate and train volunteers in natural disaster and emergency preparedness.  They teach basic disaster response skills, ranging from medical and triage techniques, fire suppression and safety, command structure and team organization, & basic search and rescue.  With over 2700 community-based CERT programs nationwide, these groups are designed to provide immediate aid to communities in the case of major disasters, when emergency services may be stretched thin and not available for long periods of time.

The CERT training consists of several days of classroom and hands on training, where participants practice everything from tying pressure bandages to stop moderate to severe bleeding, team based organization and movement in a search and rescue situation, splinting and transporting victims with fractured bones, basic triage identification and treatment, and fire suppression, just to name a few.  The course covers these topics in extreme detail, with hands on guidance from members of the Sierra Madre CERT team as well as regional trainers and instructors who have worked with police and fire departments around Southern California.  While many of these topics are similar to what is already covered by The Kensington in our own disaster and emergency preparedness seminars, the detail, practice, and application of these skills in small team settings is an invaluable experience.  The culmination of the 5 day training class is a full day of hands on testing in all of the areas students had studied so far.  On this day, the CERT training truly shines as the Sierra Madre CERT team sets up a mock natural disaster across multiple areas with a multitude of “victims” that need to be evacuate, assessed, and treated.  Live fire suppression drills, as well as cribbing drills, where you must lift a heavy object off a “victim” by building a support structure, also comprise a large part of the day.  All in all, the training that CERT offers is a huge advantage to anyone that is able to take the course, and is offered yearly by the Sierra Madre CERT team.

So far, three of our Team Members have taken the CERT Course: Hugo Canton, Director of Environmental Services, Julie Lacey, Director of Nursing, and myself, Matthew Anderson, Supervisor of Memory Care, and we all immensely enjoyed the training we received.  We have slowly started to add some of the details and practices that we learned through this training to our own emergency preparedness and disaster trainings and drills for The Kensington of Sierra Madre Team.  We plan to continue to send our directors and supervisors for this training, to better prepare and educate our team as a whole, so that we can better care for and protector our residents if these situations were to occur.