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07/26/06 1:44 pm Age: 9 yrs

Disaster simulation tests new skills


By: Kristi Spurgeon

Faculty and staff get CERT training

If you had been driving down College Avenue last week you would have seen bloody victims moaning, as they lay trapped under falling debris. Distraught parents were running around the building while Walla Walla College faculty and staff members ran inside to see how they could help. It would have looked terrible. And fortunately, the horrific scene was completely fake.

It was a test, designed to evaluate the emergency response of a group of faculty and staff.

Those 17 people just completed Community Emergency Response Team training, a series of in-depth disaster classes that educate participants about disaster preparedness and response.

Director of Village Student Life Paddy McCoy thinks the training was crucial for WWC. “We care for so many people and different situations that the more prepared we are to help in a time of emergency, the better off we’ll be,” he says. “We owe it to our campus family as well as to our Christian calling to be as prepared as possible.”

The CERT concept was developed and implemented by the Los Angeles Fire Department in 1985 after a large disaster underscored the need for trained civilians. In 1994, the Federal Emergency Management Agency began promoting the program nationwide. In Walla Walla, the program is sponsored by the county’s emergency management department.

Walla Walla County and WWC joined forces to offer an intensive CERT class on the WWC campus. Classes were taught by area emergency responders and included disaster preparedness, fire suppression, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations.

"It was a real eye opener," says Kristy Guldhammer, director of the Teaching Learning Center. "I learned that I was clueless about some of the very important procedures to follow in case of an emergency, but I now feel that I am much more prepared. I wish more people on campus would take CERT training."

The four-day CERT training ended with a mass casualty simulation centered around Village Hall. CERT members were forced to use their new training to search the building, triage and rescue victims, and treat their injuries, all while practicing good team communication and organization.

“I certainly feel that I am more prepared than I was to handle an emergency. I feel most prepared now about what to do if there is an emergency in my own home,” McCoy says. “But on top of that, I would at least know some of the steps to follow if something happened on campus and could work with others to respond.”

Linda Nelson, chair of the technology department, took the training because she wanted to be able to respond if something happens on campus or in the community. She was part of a triage team during the simulation. “Now I feel like I could enter a real mass casualty incident and help to sort out the injured people. The class also inspired me to take additional training in first aid and CPR.”

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