Berkeley CERT volunteer academy takes off this weekend

CERT training, May 5, 2013. IMG_1761. Photo: Emilie Raguso
A CERT volunteer gives a briefing to a Berkeley firefighter after a disaster simulation exercise, May 5, 2013. Photo: Emilie Raguso

This weekend, about 30 Berkeley community members are slated to complete a 20-hour training provided by the city to give them the skills to organize on their own when disaster strikes and ensure they’re ready with crucial information when emergency crews arrive. The CERT academy, run by the Berkeley Fire Department, is a city program that brings free training to Berkeley residents, who can then go on to take more specialized classes and share information with their neighborhood groups. The weekend training program teaches participants how to set up a chain of command structure and organize into key groups with the aim of turning a chaotic situation into order. Training modules include fire suppression, search and rescue operations and disaster first aid. Earlier this year, Berkeleyside reporter Emilie Raguso was invited to participate in the training course. Scroll down to see her photographs from the May event to see what some local residents will experience this weekend. Learn more about the Berkeley CERT program here

Berkeley CERT training, May 2013. Photo: Emilie Raguso
Berkeley CERT academy volunteers line up with full gear — vests, helmets and backpacks holding more tools — for their first training day in May. CERT training equipment was provided free to participants as part of the program.
Berkeley CERT training, May 2013. Photo: Emilie Raguso
Berkeley firefighter and CERT trainer Brian Alexander talks about academy principles.
Berkeley CERT training, May 2013. Photo: Emilie Raguso
In a session on fire suppression, one team fills fire extinguishers with water, while other teams practice related skills.
Berkeley CERT training, May 2013. Photo: Emilie Raguso
Participants learn how to use a generator to charge up fire extinguishers with air after they are filled with water.
Berkeley CERT training, May 2013. Photo: Emilie Raguso
One volunteer watches the gauge on the extinguishers while another pumps air into the canister.
Berkeley CERT training, May 2013. Photo: Emilie Raguso
Once the extinguishers are ready, volunteers practice putting out flames safely.
Berkeley CERT training, May 2013. Photo: Emilie Raguso
In another module, Berkeley firefighter and CERT trainer Carlos Rodriguez goes over basic disaster first aid practices.
Berkeley CERT training, May 2013. Photo: Emilie Raguso
Participants put their skills into practice during several major disaster scenarios. Here, a team leader (at right) sets the agenda.
Berkeley CERT training, May 2013. Photo: Emilie Raguso
Participants split into leaders, groups and two-person teams to manage search and rescue, fire suppression and medical needs.
Berkeley CERT training, May 2013. Photo: Emilie Raguso
The fire suppression team gets its gear in order.
Berkeley CERT training, May 2013. Photo: Emilie Raguso
Several members begin readying fire extinguishers and wait for the order to roll out.
Berkeley CERT training, May 2013. Photo: Emilie Raguso
The medical team takes stock of its supplies.
Berkeley CERT training, May 2013. Photo: Emilie Raguso
A search team assesses a structure, then radios back to the incident commander to call for fire suppression.
Berkeley CERT training, May 2013. Photo: Emilie Raguso
A search team assesses the damage in a darkened room.
Berkeley CERT training, May 2013. Photo: Emilie Raguso
Fire, medical and rescue teams prepare to advance.
Berkeley CERT training, May 2013. Photo: Emilie Raguso
Rescue and medical team members transport a “victim” using a carry technique they learned the day before.
Berkeley CERT training, May 2013. Photo: Emilie Raguso
A CERT no-no: This participant ends up alone in a smoke-filled building. CERT volunteers are taught to stick with a partner for safety.
Berkeley CERT training, May 2013. Photo: Emilie Raguso
A rescue team removes a victim from a building as Berkeley firefighter and CERT trainer Kyl Fleming looks outside.
Berkeley CERT training, May 2013. Photo: Emilie Raguso
Two fire suppression team members use the radio to check in with their team leader.
Berkeley CERT training, May 2013. Photo: Emilie Raguso
Rescue team members help escort an “injured” colleague outside after he becomes incapacitated as part of the training.
Berkeley CERT training, May 2013. Photo: Emilie Raguso
A medical team member watches over several “victims” from the disaster, and waits for firefighters to arrive. In a real emergency, it could take hours, or longer, before professional crews arrive to render aid.
Berkeley CERT training, May 2013. Photo: Emilie Raguso
At the ready: CERT participants in safety gear debrief after the disaster scenario.
Berkeley CERT training, May 2013. Photo: Emilie Raguso
Firefighters teach volunteers how to build cribbing: a temporary wooden structure to lift heavy objects during urban search and rescue.
Berkeley CERT training, May 2013. Photo: Emilie Raguso
Participants use wooden planks and wedges, along with metal poles that served as levers, to raise heavy concrete blocks.
At the end of the training, CERT volunteers who had met Friday, for the most part, as strangers, had bonded through the rigorous program.
At the end of the training, CERT volunteers who had met Friday, for the most part, as strangers, had bonded through the rigorous program.

Related:
Berkeley unites for earthquake safety (04.29.13)
Join the Berkeley-wide emergency drill April 27 (04.10.13)
Berkeley targets underserved for disaster preparedness (10.04.12)
Gear up for the Big One with help from friends (06.17.10)

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