CERT Expo: SP CERT on the frontlines all day for disaster drill

November 17, 2010
Santa Paula News

The November 6 annual CERT Expo drew more than 200 participants from throughout Ventura County, including a contingent of Santa Paulans to Camarillo Airport.

The volunteer members of CERT, AKA Community Emergency Response Teams, and Ventura County Fire and other firefighters - including Santa Paula personnel - teamed up for the disaster drill training after a welcome from Supervisor Kathy Long.

The daylong drills were open to people who completed all seven CERT training modules and received a CERT certificate. Also participating were members of Ventura County ACS/ARES (Auxiliary Communications Service and Amateur Radio Emergency Service).

CERT was formed as a neighborhood security blanket: when disaster or an emergency strikes first responders will be overwhelmed. CERT members have undergone training to be able to first help themselves and then those in their neighborhoods.

Santa Paula CERT, headed by Santa Paula Fire Captain Steve Lazenby, is a recognized Ventura County leader in the program with the highest rate of graduates per capita. Lazenby said the CERT Expo “was a great success... and plans are already under way to make next year’s event even greater.”

Santa Paula CERT members - including Mike Gray, Martha Brown, Rick Barnett and Gene and Barbara Dunn - under the direction of SPFD Firefighter and CERT instructor Bernie Arana conducted the fire extinguisher portion of the training. Also on hand were Santa Paula Engine 81 and crew Austin Macias and Terry Bell. “They were there all day to assist with the event and to respond as first up if there were any emergencies,” noted Lazenby.

Other training exercises included communications training, traffic control, filling and placing sandbags, and the use of handy materials such as lumber or steel to move heavy objects to extricate victims buried under fallen buildings and walls. Known as cribbing, the exercise showed that leverage could go a long way in an emergency. The main training event was a combination of search-and-rescue, triage and treatment of volunteer “victims” covered in fake blood, an exercise that lasted three hours.

Lazenby stressed personal safety, noting volunteers are taught to be careful of their own safety to better help others. Overall, Lazenby said the CERT Expo was “well planned and executed...  and everyone left with improved emergency response skills” as well as a “larger group of new emergency ready friends from all over the county.”

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