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Combat Center CERT trains members of community

6 Feb 2014 | Lance Cpl. Charles J. Santamaria

The first Community Emergency Response Team was started by the LA City Fire Department to teach communities about being prepared for emergencies. It was first utilized in 1987 in response to the Whittier Narrows Earthquake and went national in 1993.

Emergencies can come without warning and families must be prepared to react. Knowing how to react to anything from containing a fire in the kitchen to rescuing a person from the rubble of a collapsed building is important for all members of the family and the Twentynine Palms community.

The Combat Center’s Mission Assurance Division G-7 is scheduled to begin a free class to train volunteers in disaster readiness for the CERT course beginning Feb. 25, 2014.

The class is to certify Combat Center patrons and service members to be part of the first CERT to be implemented on a Marine Corps base, according to Niki McBain, installation emergency manager, Mission Assurance Division, G-7.

“There will always be a need for first responders,” McBain said. “What we’re doing is training people aboard the Combat Center in the different steps of emergency first response, so if the day comes that an emergency occurs; responders have the back-up they need.”

The CERT class will be split into a total of five sessions, one session each week, and will culminate with an exercise evaluating skills that participants learned throughout the course. The sessions will go over responding to emergencies such as light fire suppression, first aid and triage, and extracting people from the rubble of a fallen building.

“I think with mission assurance as a whole, the CERT program is just another pillar that helps support the G-7 mission,” said Michael Burns, force protection supervisor, Mission Assurance Division, G-7.

Several first responders from the Combat Center will be teaching the course and assisting in the practical application. One of the program’s goals is to not only prepare civilians and service members, but all members of the family regardless of age.

“One of the great things about the CERT program is that the whole family can participate,” McBain said. “Not every participant has to be an adult. This is information that people of all ages should know and we encourage people to bring their whole family if they can.”

After the five classes of the CERT course are complete, participants will be evaluated on all of the emergency response procedures that were taught. Participation in the course gives service members volunteer hours as well.

“Every session ends with practical application, which makes the learning process more hands-on than classroom oriented,” McBain said. “The final exercise brings all of that together so the participants get a real taste of the experience.”

The CERT course helps a community to be more self-sufficient by arming participants with the knowledge needed in times of urgency.

“The program is just a good way to get people into talking about the importance of emergency response and readiness in the community,” Burns said. “We just hope that the CERT is successful so that we can continue to educate people and in time, make a big impact on the families that decide to take the course.”

The program allows participants to not only react to disasters, but prepare for them.

“Each and every one of us will be faced with a disaster in our life whether that be an earthquake, kitchen fire or even a downed power line,” McBain said. “It’s important to be proactive, not reactive, to emergencies or disasters.”

For more information on the certification course and the emergency procedures they teach, contact the Combat Center’s Mission Assurance Division, G-7 at 830-6074.

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Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms