GRUNDY COUNTY C.E.R.T. (Community Emergency Response Team)
PROPOSAL: the formation of a CERT team in Grundy County
PROPOSED MISSION STATEMENT: To enable the people of Grundy County to assist themselves in the aftermath of a major disaster when first responders are overwhelmed or unable to respond because of communication or transportation difficulties.
This mission will be accomplished by providing free classes to the public on basic disaster preparedness and eventually the formation and training of CERT teams that will augment professional Police, EMS and Fire/Rescue personnel response during a major disaster. In addition to these more obvious roles CERT volunteers could
• Distribute and/or install smoke alarms and batteries to the elderly and disabled.
• Promote the use of weather radios, particularly by businesses and schools
• Promote community awareness of potential hazards and preparedness measures in general
• Supplement staffing at special events, such as parades or Missouri days
• Act as victims in training exercises.
Members would be a volunteer resource that can assist with public safety activities, actively involving members in serving their communities beyond disaster response and add value to the program beyond simply founding a CERT team.
THREATS TO THE COMMUNITY
Many different sources were used to compile and analyze data on natural hazards in Grundy County in it’s Hazard Mitigation Plan, which was updated in late 2014. This data was extracted from the Federal and State Emergency Management Agencies (FEMA/ SEMA), The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Weather Service (NWS), National Climatic Data Center (NCDC), and the United States Geological Survey (USGS).
The most wide-spread and damaging disasters to impact Grundy County have been associated with severe winter weather; Ice storms and blizzards. Power outages, damages to infrastructure, and agricultural losses contributed to substantial economic loss and significant disruption to the lives of residents. Grundy County’s hydrology and topography largely shield it from significant large scale flooding, though flash flooding does pose a threat in specific locations where high water may make roads or bridges impassible. Tornadoes and other hazards associated with thunderstorms (hail, high winds) also pose a significant threat to the county but one that is largely regional in nature, as are the remaining hazards which periodically affect the County.
These disasters can also affect cascading damages such as power and utility failures and interruptions to communications and transportation, individuals, public saftey, industry, and commerce.
CURRENT PUBLIC SAFETY INFRASTRUCTURE & RESOURCES
Emergency Communications :
Grundy County has an enhanced 911 service. All emergency calls are routed to the call center at the Law Enforcement Center in Trenton. KZZ38, a NOAA Transmitter is located near Trenton. Normally, this transmitter relays area-specific weather information from the National Weather Service in Pleasant Hill Missouri, but it is also able to broadcast other information and instructions from FEMA during any kind of emergency or disaster. The local radio station in Trenton, KTTN, is also excellent at relaying emergency information promptly, particularly regarding severe weather.
Fire Protection :
Most fire services in Grundy County are volunteer operations; although the City of Trenton has both paid full time and per-call members.
EMS (Emergency Medical Services) :
Grundy County has two ambulance districts. The Grundy County Ambulance Service is based in the Trenton Public Safety Complex. The Laredo Volunteer Ambulance Service is based at the Fire Station in Laredo. Grundy County has several ambulances, one of which is crewed around the clock. On call EMS personnel operate the second ambulance as a back up to cover the first, or to transport patients to other facilities. Laredo Ambulance personnel operate on an “on call” basis. County EMS generally transports patients to Wright Memorial Hospital just south of Trenton on Hwy 65.
Law Enforcement :
Law enforcement in Grundy County is sparse; the Sheriffs’ office usually fields two officers at a time. Two Missouri State Highway Patrol Officers are shared with a neighboring county. In addition, the City of Trenton has its own police department which does have a mutual aid agreement with the County. The City of Trenton has 12 full time and 4 part time officers, with two and sometimes three officers working per normal shift.
This small number of public safety (Fire, EMS, and Law Enforcement) professionals cover an area of 438 square miles with a population of over ten thousand people.
THE CERT PROGRAM
The Role of CERT members & how they complement Professional Responders :
The basic idea is to use CERT to perform the large number of important but not necessarily technically demanding tasks that must be carried out in emergencies. This frees highly trained professional responders for more complex rescue work. Much of CERT training concerns the Incident Command System and organization, so CERT members fit easily into larger command structures, as outlined below:
A team may self-activate (self-deploy) when their own jurisdiction is affected by disaster. An effort will be made to report their response status to Grundy County Emergency Management. A self-activated team will size-up the loss in their area and begin performing the skills they have learned to minimize further loss of life, property, and environment. They will continue to respond safely until redirected or relieved by Emergency Management or professional responders on-scene.
Teams in a jurisdiction not affected by disaster may be deployed or activated by Grundy County Emergency Management as well. Emergency Management may communicate with CERT leaders by cell phone, social media, or (preferably) HAM, FRS, GMRS or MURS radio
CERT members may be dispatched to gather or respond to intelligence about an incident, sent to affected areas, or organized to support operations. CERT members may augment support staff at an Incident Command Post or Emergency Operations Center or perform other duties on an as-needed basis as identified by the CERT team leader and/or Grundy County Emergency Management.
In the short term, CERTs perform data gathering, especially to locate mass-casualties requiring professional response, or situations requiring professional rescues, simple fire-fighting tasks (for example, small fires, turning off gas), light search and rescue, damage evaluation of structures, triage and first aid. In the longer term, CERTs may assist in the evacuation of residents, or assist with setting up a neighborhood shelter.
While responding, CERT members are temporary volunteer government workers.
CERT TEAM ORGANIZATION
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends that the standard, ten-person team be comprised as follows:
CERT Team Leader- Generally, the first CERT team member arriving on the scene becomes team leader, and is the designated Incident Commander (IC) until the arrival of someone more competent. This person makes the IC initial assessment of the scene and determines the appropriate course of action for team members; assumes role of Safety Officer until assigned to another team member; assigns team member roles if not already assigned; designates triage area, treatment area, morgue, and vehicle traffic routes; coordinates and directs team operations; determines logistical needs (water, food, medical supplies, transportation, equipment, and so on.) and determines ways to meet those needs through team members or citizen volunteers on the scene; collects and writes reports on the operation and victims; and communicates and coordinates with the incident commander, local authorities, and other CERT team leaders. The team leader is identified by two pieces of crossed tape on the hard hat.
Safety Officer – Checks team members prior to deployment to ensure they are safe and equipped for the operation; determines safe or unsafe working environments; ensures team accountability; supervises operations (when possible) where team members and victims are at direct physical risk, and alerts team members when unsafe conditions arise.
Fire Suppression Team- (2 people). Work under the supervision of the Team Leader to suppress small fires in designated work areas or as needed; when not accomplishing their primary mission, assist the search and rescue team or triage team; assist in evacuation and transport as needed; assist in the triage or treatment area as needed, other duties as assigned; communicate with Team Leader. • Search and Rescue Team (2). Work under the supervision of the Team Leader, searching for and providing rescue of victims as is prudent under the conditions; when not accomplishing their primary mission, assist the Fire Suppression Team, assist in the triage or treatment area as needed; other duties as assigned; communicate with Team Leader.
Medical Triage Team (2 people)- work under the supervision of the Team Leader, providing START triage for victims found at the scene; marking victims with category of injury per the standard operating procedures; when not accomplishing their primary mission, assist the Fire Suppression Team if needed, assist the Search and Rescue Team if needed, assist in the Medical Triage Area if needed, assist in the Treatment Area if needed, other duties as assigned; communicate with Team Leader.
Medical Treatment Team (2 people)- Work under the supervision of the Team Leader, providing medical treatment to victims within the scope of their training. This task is normally accomplished in the Treatment Area, however, it may take place in the affected area as well. When not accomplishing their primary mission, assist the Fire Suppression Team as needed, assist the Medical Triage Team as needed; other duties as assigned; communicate with the Team Leader.
Because every CERT member in a community receives the same core instruction, any team member has the training necessary to assume any of these roles. This is important during a disaster response because not all members of a regular team may be available to respond. Hasty teams may be formed by whichever members are responding at the time. Additionally, members may need to adjust team roles due to stress, fatigue, injury, or other circumstances.
TARGET VOLUNTEER NUMBERS
In the first year, we hope to train at least 20 people, and have at least half of those join the Grundy County CERT team. By Year 5 we hope to have doubled our numbers.
The training is open to anyone and participating in training doesn’t obligate a person to join the team. Team membership will be applied for by class participants after the class has been completed. Criminal background checks will be required of all trainees before allowing them to participate on the CERT.
As we will advertize the training around the region and accept participants from any location, there may be a sizable number of potential volunteers who live outside of Grundy County. County Residence is not a requirement for team membership, but only members residing in Grundy County may be issued a take-home kit. Members residing outside the county who respond to an incident in Grundy County will be issued a kit on their arrival, and return it when they go home.
This expanded membership will create a larger pool of responders for any large-scale disaster and also for other types of related volunteer work like SAR and to supplement public safety personnel during events like Missouri Days and the Gooseberry Festival.
After initial training, volunteer skill levels will be maintained by regular training sessions conducted by volunteer instructors drawn from the various public safety agencies in Grundy County. The Citizen Corps CERT program has an established curriculum. Jurisdictions may augment the training, but are strongly encouraged to deliver the entire core content. The Citizen Corps CERT core curriculum for the basic course is composed of the following nine units (time is instructional hours):
Unit 1: Disaster Preparedness (2.5 hrs). Topics include (in part) identifying local disaster threats, disaster impact, mitigation and preparedness concepts, and an overview of Citizen Corps and CERT. Hands on skills include team-building exercises, and shutting off utilities.
Unit 2: Fire Safety (2.5 hrs). Students learn about fire chemistry, mitigation practices, hazardous materials identification, suppression options, and are introduced to the concept of size-up. Hands-on skills include using a fire extinguisher to suppress a live flame, and wearing basic protective gear.
Unit 3: Disaster Medical Operations part 1 (2.5 hrs). Students learn to identify and treat certain life-threatening conditions in a disaster setting, as well as START triage. Hands-on skills include performing head-tilt/chin-lift, practicing bleeding control techniques, and performing triage as an exercise.
Unit 4: Disaster Medical Operations part 2 (2.5 hrs). Topics cover mass casualty operations, public health, assessing patients, and treating injuries. Students practice patient assessment, and various treatment techniques.
Unit 5: Light Search and Rescue Operations (2.5 hrs). Size-up is expanded as students learn about assessing structural damage, marking structures that have been searched, search techniques, as well as rescue techniques and cribbing. Hands-on activities include lifting and cribbing an object, and practicing rescue carries.
Unit 6: CERT Organization (1.5 hrs). Students are introduced to several concepts from the Incident Command System, and local team organization and communication is explained. Hands-on skills include a table-top exercise focusing on incident command and control.
Unit 7: Disaster Psychology (1 hr). Responder well-being and dealing with victim trauma are the topics of this unit. NOTE: Some programs such as Mid America TEEN CERT in Missouri teach Special Needs Considerations (2 hrs) that focuses on helping people with special needs or needing special/functional assistance.
Unit 8: Terrorism and CERT (2.5 hrs). Students learn how terrorists may choose targets, what weapons they may use, and identifying when chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, or explosive weapons may have been deployed. Students learn about CERT roles in preparing for and responding to terrorist attacks. A table-top exercise highlights topics covered.
Unit 9: Course Review and Disaster Simulation (2.5 hrs). Students take a written exam, then participate in a real-time practical disaster simulation where the different skill areas are put to the test. A critique follows the exercise where students and instructors have an opportunity to learn from mistakes and highlight exemplary actions. Students may be given a certificate of completion at the conclusion of the course.
Citizen Corps CERT training emphasizes safely “doing the most good for the most people as quickly as possible” when responding to a disaster. For this reason, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training is not included in the core curriculum – Grundy County will be including this training in its own CERT program and may provide Red Cross first aid or even first responder training for CERT members at a later date if interest is high enough.
Each unit of Citizen Corps CERT training is ideally delivered by local professional responders or other experts in the field addressed by the unit. This is done to help build unity between CERT members and responders, keep the attention of students, and help the professional response organizations be comfortable with the training which CERT members receive.
Each course of instruction is ideally facilitated by one or more instructors certified in the CERT curriculum by the state or sponsoring agency. Facilitating instructors provide continuity between units, and help ensure that the CERT core curriculum is being delivered successfully. Facilitating instructors also perform set-up and tear-down of the classroom, provide instructional materials for the course, record student attendance and other tasks which assist the professional responder in delivering their unit as efficiently as possible.
Citizen Corps CERT training is provided free to interested members of the community, and is delivered in a group classroom setting. People may complete the training without obligation to join a CERT. Citizen Corps grant funds can be used to print and provide each student with a printed manual. Some sponsoring agencies use Citizen Corps grant funds to purchase disaster response tool kits. These kits are offered as an incentive to join a CERT, and must be returned to the sponsoring agency when members resign from CERT.
CERT MEMBER RESPONSIBILITIES
CERT team members will be required to participate in a minimum of one training event per year, to keep their CPR and any other certifications current. Members will be encouraged to attend quarterly meetings, designed to maintain some semblance of spirit de corps and keep people engaged – these meetings will contain some elements of training along with the social element – the agenda of such meetings can include discussions about changing laws, recent exercises or impact studies about various hazards, upcoming opportunities to volunteer to help with events, or whatever topic seems appropriate. Attendance and training records will be kept in the CERT Team member files and monitored for compliance.
CERT team members will be responsible for maintaining their disaster response kits – as funding permits, those who are Grundy Residents will be issued take-home kits. Those residing outside the County may be issued gear as needed per event, which they will return before going home. Some of a CERT members’ gear will be their own personal property, but there will be a basic kit and some consumables (such as latex gloves) issued to team members, as an incentive for membership, to ensure uniformity, and because the training will have been tailored to the use of certain equipment.
FUNDING FOR TRAINING AND EQUIPMENT
There are Homeland Security grant programs available but funding is limited. An application will be submitted before the deadline on February 27, 2015 but this by no means assures funding.
Training can work two ways – either SEMA can schedule a regional CERT training (dependent on Interest) or someone representing Grundy County’s CERT program can get trained to be a CERT training facilitator (having already completed the CERT basic training is required for this) enabling Grundy County to organize and execute CERT training at its own discretion.
The second option is by far the most preferable.
If training is performed by a volunteer acting as facilitator and volunteer instructors from various public safety agencies in the County – this means training costs can be kept down, freeing up more program funds for purchasing class room materials, consumables and actual equipment for active team members.
Contact has been made with the State Citizen Corp Council Program Manager at the Missouri State Emergency Management Agency – and more information should be available soon, enabling me to generate more specific cost estimates and have a better idea of funding mechanisms
In order for anyone to take further training towards becoming a training facilitator or program manager, that person has to have had the CERT basic training.
It may be best to arrange for us to host a regional training, forming a contact list of local people who’ve had the training and enabling one of those people to go on to obtain training for managing the program and facilitating continuing education for existing CERT team members and future basic training classes to train new member.