Your Team Will Save Your Life


The Single Most Important Preparation Factor is Your Team

CERT team in training

CERT team practices for emergency response

Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training is, in itself, only a beginning. The real value is in the “Team.” As we have pointed out previously, your neighbors and co-workers are the people you will be most dependent upon for life-saving assistance in a sudden emergency . . . and vice versa.

The more you act as a team, the better your chances of survival. The more people in your circle at work and at home have knowledge of the life-saving and recovery skills taught in CERT classes, the better everyone’s overall chances are. But, there’s more to being a team than shared knowledge.

Here is an overview of the steps to effective team building:

  1. Individual CERT training – If provided by your city or county, you are ahead of the game.
  2. Identifying and maintaining contact with other CERT trained individuals at your work and in your neighborhood . . . two different teams in most cases.
  3. Forming a core-leadership group – preferably 6-10 trained and motivated individual volunteers in each area (home and work).
  4. Building a basic Action Plan – The simpler you can keep it, the better. (We’ll be dealing with this step in much greater detail in future posts.)  Keep in mind that this is a “voluntary” activity and no one should be required to do anything or even asked to do something that will endanger them.
  5. Choosing activities people feel comfortable heading up – Key considerations are light Search & Rescue, Communications, Logistics, Planning & Operations, First Aid & Triage, Damage Assessment, Hospitality, Training, etc.
  6. Recruiting will be an ongoing process as people come and go in the workplace or the neighborhood. Training is a continuing activity to keep skills up and participants interested.

Maintaining the edge 

Once you have a plan and have divided up the operational tasks, recruitment and training become the biggest ongoing challenges. Your team — whether in your neighborhood or at work – will only be as effective as the level of skill, knowledge and commitment of the participants.

Overcoming resistence or lack of responsiveness

Don’t settle for lame excuses!

“I don’t have the time to participate, but I’ll be available to help in an emergency”

You’ll hear this from too many people. When disaster strikes, you won’t have much time or patience for training people.

Instinctive action by each member of the team is what will be required. Untrained people, well-meaning as they may be, are likely to be of little effective help.  In fact, they could become part of the problem rather than add to the solution.

Some of these people may be impossible to motivate and the best you can hope for is to get them to prepare themselves with enough food, water and medicine to take care of their own household or their business unit. At least that way they won’t be begging for food & water from their more pro-active neighbors.

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