I had the chance to be a “survivor” of a mock disaster for the Sacramento Metro Fire Station 21 CERT Basic class disaster simulation today. This normally means having a severe injury and role-playing an often uncooperative survivor.

Stage blood for the CERT exercise, mint flavor.

I was to be a victim who had a big hit to the head, and was disoriented and wandering. This meant I did not get to be covered in blood, but only sported a large bruise on my forehead. Maybe I should have chosen to have more contusions on my face or something, would have been far messier. Our disaster event was we were survivors along the debris path of a plane crash.

Other volunteers got to have a full makeup session of blood and gashes, one person even had a piece of glass sticking out of her head. CERT volunteers like to make it very realistic.

One mock survivor gets made up for the role.

The CERT basic final disaster simulation is meant to test out what the class of potential Level 3 CERT members had just learned: Emergency operations coordination, communications, light search and rescue, triage, and first aid.

My survivor card read: “20 respiratory, < 2 caps, disoriented and wandering”. I had to recall what that meant and what the triage result would be.

I recalled the mnemonic: “30 2 can do“. This means 30 breaths per minute is within norm, 2 seconds for capillaries to show blood flow (by squeezing a fingertip or palm and color returning in that time) is normal, and ‘can do‘ means can understand and respond to instructions. Since I was disoriented and wandering, I could be classified as in shock or having a concussion, and that would mean I should be triaged to immediate treatment.

I don’t do this training justice with my brief summary. If you are interested in knowing more about emergency response, I encourage you to find a CERT class nearby, or study the CERT manuals.

The participants of this month’s class have taken 4 days of study to come to this final simulation. I took advantage of my assigned role to embellish being incoherent, bewildered, and reluctant, often asking people where I was and what was going on. I even wandered off in a daze if they weren’t paying attention to me.

The class worked well under stress. The other “survivors” definitely did not make it easy for them. I think this class was much more organized than my own final exercise last September.

It’s really cool to see such a big class; that there were others with emergency preparedness in mind. Every community needs trained, responsible, prepared volunteers to aid when disaster strikes.

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