Disaster Simulation Drills Train Volunteer Ministers to Deal with Blood, Broken Bones and Shock
Volunteer Ministers (VM) from around the greater Tampa Bay area participated in a realistic simulated disaster exercise—in the name of becoming even more valuable community resources.
Arriving at the simulated disaster scene, mocked up to resemble the aftermath of a tornado, the VMs wore the lime green safety vests signifying they are part of a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). Beneath the vests, their yellow shirts were visible—the enduring trademark of an international volunteer force 200,000 strong.
Using theatrical makeup to simulate serious injuries, while flaunting their dramatic skills, 60 “victims” were strewn about a park. The senario gave the VMs and other CERTs a chance to practice their life-saving skills with as much realism as possible.
In the exercise, staged by organizers of Pinellas County’s CERT operations, local high school students played the victims with the Temple Terrace Fire Chief overseeing the entire operation. Commenting later on the drill one VM said, “The students were all great actors and didn’t make it easy for us to save them. It was really a challenge.”
CERT is a program originally developed in 1985 to train citizens in how to be prepared for and respond to emergencies that may arise in their communities. Coastal communities around the United States were the first to adopt the program, which is now nationwide.
Emergency services personnel say that in the event of a major disaster, such as a hurricane, it is vital that citizens know how to help themselves and their neighbors. CERT members can also serve as first responders to an emergency until professional services arrive. Organized CERT trained volunteers are important assets to any community’s overall emergency response capabilities. This is precisely why the Tampa area VMs are active participants in this program.