Dr. Crystal McGlover (Courtesy photo)

The Los Angeles County Fire Department hosted its Community Emergency Response Team training on Sunday, May 5, at Inglewood Fire Station 171, located at 141 W Regent Street. CERT training empowers community members with hands-on basic training in disaster and life-saving techniques if 9-1-1 is not immediately available.

“We had over 55 students registered for this training,” stated Dr. Crystal McGlover, program coordinator at the City of Inglewood Office of Emergency Preparedness.

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“In CERT, we talk about ‘The greatest good for the greatest number of people,’ helping your family and neighbors during these situations because if you’re not familiar with your neighbors, and your family’s not aware, then how are we going to be successful surviving a disaster?” she queried.

Inglewood OEP coordinates with LACoFD to provide CERT for the communities it serves.

CERT students drill in fire suppression. (Rodd A. Amos/L.A. Sentinel)

“This is something the [L.A. County] Board of Supervisors want in place, and our fire chief and his executive staff want implemented,” said Fire Captain Chiyoshi Hasegawa.

“In the times we live in, we want our communities to have awareness that they can handle emergencies at a certain level.

“Because this is a federal class, it’s FEMA-approved. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is the guiding agency we work underneath. Earthquakes are predominant in southern California, so we try to taper the class specifically to our areas, namely Inglewood, Windsor Hills, and Baldwin Hills,” he added.

Twenty-four program participants drilled in Disaster Medical Operations (triage and treatment strategies), Light Search and Rescue (safety, lifting, and victim removal), Disaster Psychology and Team Organization (mental health support), Terrorism (risk and threat analysis), and Disaster Fire Suppression, all under the watchful eyes of firefighters, Emergency Medical Services (EMS) personnel, and CERT volunteers.

“Everyone loves the fire suppression demo,” added Hasegawa.

“They get the opportunity to extinguish a small, controlled fire. In a ‘MacGyver’ approach, we show individuals how to do ‘lifts and carries’ using things that they have around their house to help someone until first responders arrive,” he said.

The CERT program is also available county-wide.

“Our participants come from all over,” said Eugenia Chan, LACoFD community services liaison.

“It’s a free training session and we invited our local residents and those from surrounding cities to participate in the course and to get to know their neighbors. We will not all be together in a time of disaster. But if we are prepared, then we can help our families first, and then our neighbors,” she said.

CERT students and fire officials pose for elevated shot.  (Rodd A. Amos/L.A. Sentinel)

Participants who successfully complete the three-day, 20-hour course are awarded certificates of achievement and backpacks stuffed with safety gear like hardhats, safety vests, face masks, goggles, bandages, flashlights with batteries, and bottled water to assist others in their neighborhood or workplace following an event when professional responders are not immediately available to help.

“I would definitely do this again,” noted program graduate Leonard Redway of Inglewood, “because it is important for our community to be prepared in case of any kind of natural disaster when first responders can’t get to you. It’s great when community members can fill those gaps.”

“Stay ready so you don’t have to get ready,” Hasegawa continued.

“We have Super Bowls, Summer Olympics, and a new NBA arena. That’ll tie up some resources. But we still want to have that love for our neighbor. And sometimes, your neighbor is the person right next to you.”

“It’s not a matter of if,” added McGlover, “but when the next disaster will happen. Preparedness begins with you.”

For more information, visit https://bit.ly/3Wr88h0.