On a cold and windy February morning in rural Rockwall County, a group of boy scouts decides to take a hike in the back woods. Several hours in, the weather suddenly turns nasty and the group is hit by a quickly moving tornado. As hours pass with no word from the boys, they are reported missing by concerned parents. Unfortunately, police and fire units have become busy dealing with the storm’s aftermath and haven’t the manpower to mount a proper search in a timely manner. The scouts’ location is unknown and whatever their condition may be is undoubtedly worsening with the passing of every minute.
The good news about the above event is that it didn’t happen, at least not for real. The even better news is that there is a local, well organized group of volunteers trained and equipped to deal with situations like this. The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) was formed to educate citizens about disaster preparedness, training them to assist professional responders in situations where they may be spread thin, and to promote self reliance when help may be long in coming.
Last Saturday, members of EastTex Regional CERT conducted a drill based on the Boy Scout scenario. Eight members of Royse City Scout Troops 312 and 3121 were sent out to the woods behind the Rockwall Gun Club to go “missing.” Each was assigned a color-coded “condition” ranked from perfectly healthy to critically or fatally injured. CERT members formed into three search teams and deployed out to different sectors to find the “victims.” Upon locating each victim, members had to assess their condition and perform the appropriate action in the field.
Healthy, or “green” victims, would be questioned about their situation, whether they knew the location of the others, and instructed to accompany a CERT member to an extraction point where they could be transported to safety.
“Yellow” indicates non-threatening injuries which could be treated in the field until the victim could be transported out.
“Red,” for life threatening injuries, are treated as much as possible to stop bleeding or facilitate breathing and kept immobile until they can be carried out.
“Black” indicates a deceased victim. CERT team members are instructed to report the location of the body, leave the scene alone and move on to victims that can be helped.
According to EastTex CERT program manager Mike Ross, “Most of today’s participants were graduates of the latest 2-day training session held last month. This was their first drill, and they did amazingly well.”
EastTex CERT training programs are open to anyone age 13 and older interested in learning how to be prepared in the event of an emergency or natural disaster. Participants 18 and older who have completed training are welcome to join as an active call-out volunteer. Please visit the EastTex CERT website for information on upcoming training classes and details about the program. Remember, when disaster strikes, you may be on your own for awhile until help can arrive. It makes sense to learn how to deal with extreme situations to keep yourself and your family safe.
Article & Photos by Bob Lewis
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