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“In an emergency, knowledge is power,” Carr said. “Training really helps. Pilots are trained for situations that will probably never happen. CERT is the same way. You are trained for uncommon, unexpected situations so you know how to handle them with your safety and the safety of others in the forefront.” CERT also works with Medical Volunteer Disaster Relief. Gail Adair is the Morgan Hill CERT training coordinator and a veteran Red Cross volunteer who has assisted with relief efforts across the U.S. “At the end of the training we conduct a search and rescue simulation. Trainees work in teams to search a darkened building to find and triage victims, get them safely out of the building, assess and treat injuries, assess building damage, and radio their findings to the command center where another team records the findings. As one might encounter in a disaster, the victims are screaming, crying, not listening to instructions from their rescuers. It’s a dose of reality that drives home the importance of having clear roles and working together.” “At our team meetings, we delve into disaster psychology,” Adair said. “We talk about behaviors they might encounter in a disaster and how they might feel in responding to those situations. Each new class brings new insights.” A recent CERT graduate told Adair how, after the training, he was able to help out a co-worker when a forklift accident led to a medical emergency. “He felt comfortable responding because he knew what to do and had actually practiced it in a disaster simulation,” she said. During the graduation ceremony, the class takes the Disaster Service Worker oath, which Carr described as “a proud but emotional moment for everyone.” CERT Basic training is offered twice a year in Morgan Hill and once a year in Gilroy. South County boasts over 400 graduates and counting. Many also take advantage of monthly continuing education classes in cardio-pulmonary resuscita- tion (CPR), use of an automated external defibrillator (AED), and other training to expand their emergency preparedness and response skills. Some graduates go on to become CERT trainers and stay current through a required train the trainer program and activities such as a ‘mock activation.’ “In an event where first responders are overwhelmed, we call in CERT members to assist where they are trained,” Ponce said. “They report to a central mobilization center where emergency supplies are assigned, event objectives are reviewed, and assignments are managed.” CERT members are also trained to assist in setting up Emergency Volunteer Centers and to serve alongside city employees and the American Red Cross as part of emergency shelter teams. CERT members often provide logistics communications support at local events such as Fourth of July and Holiday Parades, the Mushroom Mardi Gras, and the Garlic Festival. Trained CERT volunteers have also helped with sandbagging during winter floods, missing person and evi- dence searches, crowd management, and staffing of emergency operations centers. 54 GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN Once a year, CERT holds a countywide disaster response simulation, typically at Moffett Field in Mountain View. Carr said this year marks the first time that CERT will be included as an organization in the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) event, with tactical teams practicing coordinated rescue. UASI is funded by the California Department of Homeland Security. The CERT portion is called “Green Command” because of its trademark green t-shirts. “CERT members are out in the community,” Ponce said. “They’ve learned skills they’ll have for a lifetime. One day they may save someone’s life.” Find information about Morgan Hill and Gilroy CERT programs online atmhcert.com and gilroycert.com. Map Your Neighborhood As many as 2,000 homes in Morgan Hill now participate in a grassroots program known as Map Your Neighborhood (MYN). The program brings residents together to follow nine basic steps that help safeguard families, homes, and neighbor- hoods in the event of a disaster. During that critical window of time before first responders arrive, neighbors are the closest source of help. MYN got its start here in 2010 when Morgan Hill resident Sherry Purser learned about it at a regional MYN training hosted by Alameda County Fire Department. Afterward she approached Ponce at OES and offered to help launch the program. The Morgan Hill City Council gave OES the green light to launch MYN to interested residents in Morgan Hill and San Martin. According to Purser, neighborhoods are broken down geographically into blocks of 10-20 homes, each with a resident volunteer organizer. Neighbors are invited to a two- hour meeting at one of their homes to walk through the program steps together. During the meeting, they create a master list with their contact information and discuss the special needs, skills, and resources of the people in their block. They also designate one home to serve as an emergency meeting place and another as a care center. “Neighbo rs walk away from the meeting with a disaster plan that’s tailored to their block,” Purser said. “Our goal is that, in an emergency, block organizers can communicate the needs for their block with CERT neighborhood captains who then SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2017 gmhtoday.com