Michael Diak’s Community Emergency Response Team training came in handy when a car in front of him abruptly stopped one day and an accident occurred. Though no one was hurt, he responded swiftly by grabbing his fluorescent vest, dialing 911 and directing traffic.
“When medical and police showed up, traffic was moving,” he said. “My training kicked in.”
From directing Sandcastle Day beach parking (no small feat) to assisting in a search and rescue for a missing person, Cannon Beach CERT members, a ready and organized team of disaster volunteer workers, have used their training in numerous ways this year. Volunteers also help with large storms and train for a possible earthquake and tsunami, since emergency services personnel will need backup after “the big one.”
CERT trainings kick off this fall with four classes.
Participants will be trained on preparedness, area hazards, fire safety, teamwork, basic disaster medical skills and search and rescue activities. At the end of training, CERT participants perform the skills they have learned in a drill, that involves helping “victims” made up to look like they have injuries.
Instructors will include Cannon Beach Police Chief Jason Schermerhorn, Clatsop County emergency manager Tiffany Brown, and facilitators from Cannon Beach Rural Fire Protection District and Pacific Power.
After taking the four class sessions required to be certified, CERT members can choose to take ongoing classes. There is no fee for CERT training, and no prior experience or training is necessary. Each participant receives a backpack with emergency preparedness tools, including a vest, helmet and basic medical supplies.
“One of our goals is to get as many members as possible,” CERT coordinator Paula Vetter said. “In an emergency situation, the more people who are trained with CERT training, the better off the entire community will be.”
She hopes one person from each business will undergo the training.
Currently comprised of 34 members, CERT coordinates with nearby teams and the Cannon Beach Medical Reserve Corps, which has volunteers with medical and public health backgrounds. The city’s goal is to have 100 CERT members and 25 reserve corps members by the end of 2018.
“A lot of people recognize CERT now and understand what CERT is,” Vetter said. “It’s a way for more people in the community to have at least some background and experience.”
CERT members can be as involved as they are able to be, and Vetter eventually hopes to assign particularly dedicated individuals as team captains.
Volunteers feel safe, prepared
“CERT prepares people for any emergency, whether you’re hiking, playing a sport or doing any activity,” CERT member Silvia Avila said. “It’s fun and can be applied to a lot of different situations.”
Diak said being educated on proper procedures through “beneficial and thorough” training makes him feel safer and able to keep his family safe.
A Federal Emergency Management Associated operation with teams nationwide, CERT is supervised by the Cannon Beach Police Department.
“The Cannon Beach Police Department being right there during all classes is a privilege,” Diak said. “A huge thanks to Paula for being such an amazing director.”
Growing up in Cannon Beach and being aware of the Cascadia subduction zone motivated Avila to join CERT. She became certified when she was a Seaside High School student.
“We would rotate every other week between class lessons and hands-on activities,” she said. “The final simulation at the end was very realistic.”
Avila’s training led her to start an official CERT club at Seaside High, and as a Cannon Beach volunteer firefighter, she applied her CERT training to fire rescue training.
Diak had “a blast” walking the Fourth of July parade with other CERT members, leading a catchy chant and earning the designation “Captain Parade” for his enthusiasm.
“It’s been amazing to be part of the team, get to learn who is who, and be a part of things you never thought you’d be a part of,” he said.
CERT trainings take place Sept. 17, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Sept. 24, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Sept. 29, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:45 p.m.; and Oct. 1, from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.