Community College District Leads Hands-On Disaster Symposium

SDPD, Sheriff's Department and American Red Cross were all on site for the free event.

The San Diego Community College District Police Department led a Disaster Preparedness Training Symposium at San Diego Mesa College on Tuesday to train and prepare its employees and the local community in emergency-aid strategies in the event of a disaster.

The SDCCDPD, with the help of the San Diego Police Department, the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department and the American Red Cross administered training exercises for the SDCCD’s Campus Community Emergency Response Teams, or C-CERT.

Volunteers were taught fire safety and were taken through a variety of individual and team emergency-aid exercises. Attendees also got to witness SDPD’s ABLE helicopter perform a mock emergency landing on the football field.

“You really need ordinary folks that are trained in life safety to provide that support before first responders get there," SDCCPD Chief of Police Raymund Aguirre said.

"If they can provide first aid before medics get there, we’re going to train them to do that. It’s critical,” he added.

C-CERT volunteers were taught how to properly use fire extinguishers by extinguishing controlled fires from a range of distances. They were also taught how to safely lift and prop fallen debris. Practice dummies and large blocks of wood were used to simulate humans trapped under concrete and fallen structures in the event of an earthquake or other destructive disaster.

“The idea of saving people” is what brought Sandra Williams-Carter out to the free event.

“Our number one priority is helping the people, helping our neighborhood, helping our policemen, firemen,” Carter, a C-CERT volunteer, said. “You never know when we might need it. We want someone to know how to do that CPR, how to get this brick off of me without doing more damage.”

“What we’re doing is really showcasing the skills of C-CERT.” Aguirre said. “It’s providing life-safety skills to individuals, in this case our campus community, so that they can fight small fires, triage and provide first aid to folks that are injured as part of the aftermath of a disaster until first responders can attend to them.”

C-CERT is a part of CERT San Diego, which was implemented by the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department to assist citizens in becoming involved in volunteer efforts after the community received mass support from its citizens during the Cedar Fire in 2003.

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