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Resolve to be Prepared: Become CERT Trained


The winter season can be a beautiful wonderland filled with snowcapped mountains and frosted evergreens. It also can be a season of snowstorms and ice-covered roads. With an earthquake in Snoqualmie last week and snow in the forecast next week, this is a good time to put a focus on your emergency preparedness and be ready going into the new year.

The City of Auburn Emergency Management Division offers a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training program for all Auburn area residents. Over 800 volunteers have become CERT trained in the years since Auburn implemented its CERT training program.

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A CERT participant applies a splint to a ‘disaster victim’ during a drill | For the Auburn Examiner


“CERT is important for a couple of reasons. First [volunteers] are trained to be more resilient to things like volcanic eruptions and [earthquakes] and are better prepared to survive. They have training on how to develop a plan, how to work with family and neighbors. They are also able to help their neighbors after an event,” said City of Auburn Emergency Manager Jerry Thorson.

An essential factor of CERT is placing trained, capable, individuals throughout the city to assist after an event. Because first responders are stretched thin, and hazards often prevent access, a large portion of those rescued after a disaster are rescued by neighbors.

Thorson reassured that no prior qualifications were required and that CERT is for everyone. “Most volunteer participants have no prior medical experience. Those that have an interest in being better prepared are always welcome in our class. Even if [participants] have physical limitations, part of what we do is to discuss working with the capabilities of the team.”

“CERT training is comprised of 24-plus hours of classroom education,” describes the City of Auburn website. The training includes “hands-on practice in topics including disaster preparedness; emergency management; fire safety/suppression; disaster medical operations; light search and rescue; disaster communication; disaster psychology; and all-hazards identification and awareness.”


CERT Training Drills

Drills are run as a part of CERT training, allowing volunteer participants to apply their knowledge in a controlled environment. Volunteers act as disaster victims, adding realism to the drill. Instructors observe participants and give feedback after the conclusion of the drill. This feedback is immediately applied as the exercise is run again. The new drill allows for participants to change roles, as well as for new challenges to be experienced.

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For the Auburn Examiner

During the drill, participants walk through the steps of clearing a building.  A live fire is extinguished, faux electrical and gas units are checked turned off and the building is observed to ensure structural integrity.  The class is split into groups using knowledge learned during training.  One group enters the building, marking the exterior with half of an X with the time and date they entered.  This half-X indicates they have entered, but remain inside.

Once inside the group remains together to search the building.  Survivors can be in shock and scared, creating a chaotic environment.  CERT participants must work through this to find survivors and assess their medical needs quickly and efficiently.  Patients are labeled via color to mark the level of medical attention they require.


Using the skills gained in the CERT training course, the participants work to remove the patients in a manner that will ensure everyone’s survival.  The group outside addresses the needed medical attention of the patients.  Communication among CERT participants is key to ensuring all patients, and rescue workers, remain safe and are treated in the most efficient manner.

Auburn’s CERT training is free, but pre-registration is required as space is limited. The 2020 CERT training class schedule has been released, with three classes scheduled for spring, summer, and fall. Visit the Auburn Emergency Management website for more information on CERT training.

Don’t let the beauty of this season distract from the craziness that can come with it.  The skills learned in CERT training are invaluable.  They could be the difference between life and death.  Be prepared, become CERT trained.

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