First CERT Class On Catalina Island

By November 10, 2014LACoFD News

The first Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) class was held on Catalina Island over the weekend of October 24-26 in the City of Avalon. At 6 p.m. on Friday evening, class members gathered to begin their instruction. It was a productive weekend as motivated residents were ready to recharge their efforts for our Department and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD).  Over the next several months, Sheriff’s deputies plan to continue to work with these local residents to register several into the Sheriff’s Department Volunteer Program. LASD plans to build this cadre into the leadership core of our joint CERT efforts on the island by March 2015 to have a solid team ready to launch into the spring/summer season.

“This was an outstanding partnership of agencies,” said Laura Walters, community services representative. “The training team looked forward to arriving on Catalina and providing a high quality CERT course customized to serve island residents. The students had a positive attitude and a willingness to learn, network, expand and revitalize CERT.”

The weekend covered modules and practical skills training on Disaster Preparedness, Fire Suppression, Triage and Treatment in a Disaster Medical Operations Environment, “Light” Search and Rescue, the CERT Organization, the Incident Command System (ICS), Disaster Psychology, and Terrorism. This class was focused on training citizens to be ready to help one another and aid in response efforts to minimize the overall impact of a disaster and aid in expediting recovery efforts. An additional goal of this training delivery was to provide additional tools, as well as State and local guidelines for effective management and sustainable CERT program on Catalina.

The revitalization of the Catalina CERT program will:

  • Keep a cadre of 10-20 Sheriff Volunteer CERT members engaged as a lead group to work with City, County Fire, Sheriff and the Hospital;
  • Have additional training and understanding of ICS and relationships with multiple agencies and island services;
  • Develop a team image so they are clearly recognizable as Catalina Island CERT, and
  • Network and communicate with other community CERT-trained members who would be available to aid and augment resources as needed.

LASD will use other existing CERT models to work with to make this work effortlessly. They will work in liaison with all parties to manage the team, address follow-up training, and actively support the Sheriff Station Volunteer Coordinator as the point of contact for the Island. During brush fires on Catalina, the LASD activates their CERT volunteers on the island to assist both of our Departments.

The formation of this Joint Agency Training Cadre gave a strong class delivery, with an additional strong message of the support and education to island residents who volunteered to take this class. Islanders took the challenge and were willing to be part of aiding their Catalina community in time of need, and promote ambassadorship to residents and travelers of the need to be prepared, ready to respond and recover. Two local hospitals, Catalina Island Medical Center at St. Mary Medical Center, were also proud to participate in coordination of this class. Thanks to the Avalon Fire Department, LASD, Long Beach Fire Department and members of our Department for the team effort and coalition building for Catalina.