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California Community Gathers for an Emergency Drill

by Roland P.

We have a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) at Cedarhill Estates Mobile Home Park at Fullerton, CA. About 30 people took the CERT training course and received a certificate of completion in 2006. We have taken various additional classes such as defibrillator training, CPR and basic first aid.

Our community is a limited access community with just one way in and out. We do have an emergency gate separating our community with a community to the north of us that remains locked. In the event of an emergency this gate will be unlocked.

Through our CERT team training, we came up with a disaster plan for our community. All of our residents have been notified of which gate they should use to exit in the event of an emergency. We have had many drills. We separate our community into six sections and send teams of two out to check approximately 50 homes per team. We have given each home a sign that reads "HELP" on one side in bold red letters and "OKAY" on the other side in bold black print. In the event of an emergency they can post the sign in their front window declaring their status. This in itself is a great aid during windshield assessment.

Our teams talk with all the folks and instruct them on turning off the utilities should the need arise. We also educate them on storing the proper supplies to sustain them and their families for up to three days.

Many of our Cedarhill CERT team members have also joined the city of Fullerton CERT team. The city of Fullerton has six districts with a CERT team in each district. This partnership has been an invaluable asset to our community. Many of the CERT members from the other districts come and assist in our drills. We most recently had an emergency evacuation drill and had the support of the City of Fullerton Police Reserve Volunteers, the Fullerton Fire Department and many CERT team members.

Another valuable asset we have is three members of our CERT team have taken a Ham Radio Operators course, took the exam and have been issued a Ham Radio Operators license. When all other forms of communication fail, the Ham Radio more than likely will still be able to communicate outside of our community. We have had a couple of recent emergencies that our team has responded to.

This one time, an earthquake occurred and a wild fire was set and raged less than two miles from our community for days. We were able to go out and do our windshield assessments and, via Ham Radio, stay in touch with the Fullerton CERT team district leaders and the Fullerton Races team.

Our community has become somewhat of a role model for the area CERT teams and we are humbly proud to be an asset to our community and our city. We continue to train and recruit new teams. We hope to someday join hands with CERT team members clear across this great nation. 

Roland has joined his neighbors to build a safer community. Not only is his neighborhood protected from disasters, but it is also made a friendlier place for all. Get to know your local disaster plans or get involved to help design one. Consider joining your local Citizen Corps Council, make sure you have your own disaster plans, or attend your local CERT classes. Also try keyword searching on Serve.gov: "disaster" or "relief" or "recovery" or "Citizen Corps" or "fire department" or "police" or "safety" or "CERT."

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