CERT team practicing leveraging and cribbing
Since the motto for the Amherst Community Emergency Response Team team seems to be, "Rescue the greatest number of people in the shortest amount of time" I have to wonder what a specialized CERT team might have done if they were aboard that South Korean ferry last week where chaos and a bad decision led to the deplorable deaths of 300, mostly teen-aged high school students.
Last night the team -- and we are becoming a team -- took on the task of search and rescue. Again the safety of the team comes first, so if the initial sizeup of the situation indicates a building too badly damaged to enter then you simply do not enter.
Even if victims are inside calling for help, the best you can do is try to keep them calm by reassuring them help is on the way. Rushing in where angels fear to tread can do more harm than good, adding to the burden of the professional first responders who are sure to arrive.
Upon entering a light or moderately damaged building CERT members (who always work in teams) leave a chalk mark on the exterior indicating time of entry. Upon completing the search another notation is left to confirm what they found and that they made it safely out of the building.
CERT members cannot pronounce someone dead, but as part of a triage if all signs indicate death then you simply move on to try to help the living. The injured need to be removed from unsafe conditions as quickly as possible.
Archimedes once said, "Give me a place to stand and I will move the earth." Using the principles of a simple lever, large heavy objects can be moved. Other team members use "cribbing" (wooden blocks) to place under the object to keep it raised off the victim.
Once the injured party is safely removed from the debris the team needs to carry them out of harms way. A simple blanket carry allows up to six team members to assist, although in this case the load was not all that heavy.
Last night marked the half-way point for the CERT program and the enthusiasm level is still as high as it was on day one.
Instructor Michael Williamson confirmed he will be teaching another 6 week session in the Fall but will be offering a class introduction next Thursday in the UMPD community room.
If you're interested, email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org (before disaster strikes!)