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Ready for Disaster?

I graduated and got my goggles! For the last six weeks, I have been taking the challenging FEMA training course offered by the county Office of Emergency Management (OEM). The course is titled CERT (Community Emergency Response Training). CERT educates individuals about disaster preparedness for hazards that may impact their area and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations.

Our diverse group of 25 people met in Sugar Land. We were a true cross-section of ethnicities and cultures that represents this fast-growing community. As we participated in hazardous material drills and disaster simulations, we soon became friends and partners in learning to save lives and to protect our neighborhoods.

While learning fire suppression safety, we actually doused real fires by using large fire extinguishers, and following the PASS method: Pull the pin, Aim the nozzle, Squeeze the trigger, and Sweep the fire. It was truly enlightening to discover the different types of fires that occur, and the correct extinguishing agents and methods to use to suppress them.

In medical preparedness, the instructor explained how to triage, treat, and transport victims. Dealing with those who were bleeding, or were experiencing head, neck, and spinal injuries, was very sobering.

Further, we learned the proper methods of searching systematically for lost or injured people. Our motto was to do the greatest good for the greatest number of people. We were taught safe techniques for lifting, leveraging, cribbing, and victim removal. It was all new to me.

I had always wondered about the various DOT placards that I saw on those huge tanker trucks that sped past my little Jetta on the freeway. Sure enough, many of them contain hazardous materials that could be flammable, radioactive, or worse! If we see a truck with a placard in an accident, our basic teaching was RAIN: Recognize the specific chemical, Avoid the scene and move up-wind, Inform others, and Notify authorities.

So, now I have my credentials, and a green backpack filled with a hard hat and goggles, safety vest, gloves, tools, flashlight, and first aid kit. Bring on the pandemic. One of the best tools that I received was the 2016 Emergency Response Guidebook. It is also available in a digital format, and I now have the app on my cell phone and iPad. It is provided by the National Library of Medicine, and is free through the App Store. Just search for ERG 2016.

There was so much more that I learned, but the very first lesson was: Make a Plan! Prepare in the peaceful times for the potential disaster. A free template is available at or More than ever, I see the threat and understand the necessity for every home to be prepared. Pray that the disaster misses you, but what if?

Spiritually, the parallels to my CERT training are obvious. Living without a plan, as though there will be no challenges in life, is foolish. We must prepare our spirit for warfare. We have an enemy, but God is greater. There are evil tactics that are being employed to destroy us, but the strategy of God in Ephesians 6:10-20 is undefeatable. God has a wonderful Plan in John 3:16. Trust it.

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