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The one where I stop thinking about myself and start worrying about everyone else

4 min read

Have you heard of a /now page? I thought it was a clever way to commit my thoughts to paper. They seem more tangible when they’re typed out like this.

I’m not even sure how I found out about CERT but I’m glad I took the class. CERT stands for Citizens Emergency Response Team. It’s a volunteer training class offered through the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA. Not every state offers it, strangely enough. It’s a proven fact that first responders are limited in number. It’s up to the rest of us to protect ourselves. At least until the first responders can swing by.

I’m always thinking about how to give back to my community. It may take me a minute for my brain and my heart to be in sync but when they are, whew, watch out! This is my way of doing that. If you don’t already understand how difficult life is here in the desert, then know this. Vegas is a transient town. Your neighbors across the street might be renting and there’s no point in introducing yourself because you won‘t see them in a month or whatever. It’s hard to trust someone to look out for you when they’re not staying long at all.

So I started looking at how to protect my family. CERT is step one. For me anyways. I learned how to respond to specific situations, size them up, conduct light search and rescue, fire suppression, turning off gas meters, basic first aid, how to triage patients, and moving onto the next thing. The greatest good for the greatest amount of people in the shortest amount of time.

We got a thick binder of studying material that they blitzed through in 2 days. but they covered the important points. I’m definitely going to go through it and see what they glossed over. We practiced how to use Sam splints, how to put out fires, how to move an immobilized person, how to present ourselves (we got helmets and cool high-viz vests, among other things), and to assess situations. We covered every disaster we might be activated for: natural, technological, and intentional.

We got a lot of tips in between. Get a hand-cranked radio, get your nitrile gloves from Harbor Freight, and download the Emergency Management app for Southern Nevada. And duct tape. Buy lots and LOTS of duct tape.

Of course, all this training made me size-up what our current situation is like. There are a ton of things that our house is missing: carbon monoxide alarms, non-plastic fire extinguishers, and go-bags for Ma and Daddy. My plan is to slowly build up their bags with what I already have and add on as I go. Otherwise, I’d go overboard and get everything all at once.

And my bills won’t get paid, and that’s a disaster waiting to happen!

I have my bug out bag but it absolutely needs updating. Plus I gotta figure out how to balance the free goodies in my CERT backpack with my zombie apocalypse bag. I mean, yes I could run for the hills when the zombies come, but I need to strike a gentle balance of survivability.

They gave us a code for a free CPR class through the Red Cross, which is step 2. The class title is “Adult and Pediatric First Aid/CPR/AED.” You never know when those skills may come in handy when you’re out and about. I honestly meant to do this ages ago but I kept putting it off because it was kind of on the expensive side: $109, depending on who’s hosting it. Thank goodness for that code! I signed up for a weekend class. It has two components: you do all the studying online and then you do an in-class portion that’s about 3 hours long where you do practical stuff. I’m about halfway through the online training. It’s a lot of repetition, which is honestly the best way that I learn.

Step 3 is my CCW permit and a gun. Ma wants to get one with me. And 1 of the other CERT class attendees owns an official permit-teaching class through the state. So that was easy! Just gotta save up for that. No coupon codes, haha.

There is a bunch of other complete at your own pace type classes that FEMA offers. I’m going to look into it further and see what else I can do. I want to do as much as I can and stay on top of my survival education. When I’m activated, I can say I’m ready to do this thing.

To me, all of this training is about being in control of a hopeless situation. Every day something horrible happens in the world. I don’t want to be caught unawares. And I also don’t want the sympathy fatigue to keep me from doing the right thing if it were to happen. All of these steps are me trying to combat that mindset.

Wish me luck.

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