Happy Camp Community Resource Team is Ready to Go!

Happy Camp CERT Training Class, July 2013

Thanks to Doreen Mitchell and Deputy Dave Nye and all the instructors especially Lynn Corliss, Linda Nellist, Jerry Havac, Flo Lopez and Dale Bridges, who taught members of our community how to help in the case of an emergency. As members of the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) we don’t do the job of the the professional sheriff deputies, fire or ambulance and EMT people in an emergency. We have had the introduction to a system that will help our community assist these trained professional workers in order to help ourselves in the case of a natural disaster or other horrific event.
It was a very busy weekend. The weather was hot and we had to go out in it to extricate a victim from debris that had fallen upon him or her (it is hard to tell with a dummy). We suited up in hard hats, goggles, vests, gloves and knee pads as that is what disaster workers need to do as safety is constantly emphasized in the training. One incident where CERT teams saved over 700 victims also found that those who came to help also had about a hundred accidents! Since that diverts much needed help to heal or medical care, the first and most important rule constantly mentioned is to keep yourself safe.
Indeed, if there were to be a flood, wildfire, earthquake, tsunami, or something like the snow storm that isolated many Happy Camp residents last winter, the first thing to do for each of the volunteers is to be sure their home and family are safe before going to a central location to begin helping to evaluate and gather information on the needs of the community. That’s only common sense. You can’t help others otherwise. A CERT volunteer works as a team, with a leader, scribe, medical person and other positions as may be needed. By the end of the third day we had a real great comradeship among all the friendly classmates and were able to learn from each other’s questions and experiences also.
Having a backpack ready to go with protective gear, first aid supplies and other helpful items is our next project and the instructors contributed to our store of supplies with daily drawings for tools, and other things for the kit.
Have you ever used a fire extinguisher? Rather than wait until we are in the emergency situation where we desperately need the fire extinguisher, we tried it out and learned how to operate this tool without taking time to read the instructions at a time when it is needed! I’m grateful for Catherine Meinert who was my backup in putting out a fire in the elementary school playground and I did the same for her next. Rachel Lent put splints on my broken arm and leg and monitored whether I was having difficulty breathing, bleeding or going into shock! This sort of practice made us feel more comfortable knowing what we would need to do in the case of an actual emergency.
Our group of volunteers who took the course were as varied as the Klamath River Community. We had young men, Eric Paul, Justin Smith, Kris Martin, David Poeschel and Aaron Martin who excelled in the practical exercises. We had new comers to Happy Camp like Catherine Huggins who’s been here 7 months and Catherine Meinert who returned to her roots here. We had Dan Effman, a Chamber Board member, and Kris McGraw who recently joined the Chamber. We had people who didn’t even know we had a Neighborhood Watch as well as long time volunteers with the program like Mike and Becky Tiraterra, Dan Effman and Tara Haute.Some like Russ Scohy had to hurry off to feed his critters at the end of class. Lisa West had some delicious baking to do for the Deli. Some of the students had more experience with first aid CPR and other training that could be helpful, and our very own Flo Lopez from the River is a trainer with many years experience from when she worked with Wes and Marion Curtis and instructed us in this training. We all learned something new and I know that I learned many new things!
One of the most interesting parts of the training is what we are NOT equipped to handle. If there should be a terrorism event locally, the expert law enforcement officials would be the one to handle that type of disaster, although we might be of help in keeping eyes and ears open for suspicious activity. If there is a hazardous spill on the Klamath River Highway, there would likewise be the need for experts to deal with the situation, but by recognizing the signs we would know to stay away from the hazard.
Some of the instruction was very scientific such as the faults that cause earthquakes and what could cause Mt. Shasta fifty miles to our east to become an active volcano. Some training was about medical issues by public health workers, with updates in not applying tourniquet except as a last ditch effort. Some are old problems, wildfires, and floods that have happened along the Klamath River for eons of time. Some are newly recognized dangers such as the tsunami warnings fifty miles to the west of us at the Pacific Ocean or terrorism events. Even the physiological and psychological stesses on individuals and how to counteract these stresses were part of the training. This is only the introduction to further training that will be held on a monthly basis by David Nye and others who have more to teach us. If you are interested in how to be a great help to our community in case of a great need, be sure to plan to attend the August 19th Neighborhood Watch meeting in Happy Camp.

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