Courtesy of the Todd County Tribune
A CERT trainee assesses a "victim" during the Rosebud Community Emergency Response Training. Photo courtesy the Todd County Tribune.
A group of Todd County High School students were made up to be "victims" during the emergency training. Photo courtesy the Tood County Tribune.
About the same time New York and Washington rescue workers were beginning to respond to the terrorist attacks of September 11, a group of people were gathering in Todd County, South Dakota to learn how to help their communities during disasters.
Private citizens as well as ambulance and police personnel were among the 43 participants who took Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training September 11-14. FEMA offered a grant to tribes in Region VIII so they could provide CERT training locally. The Rosebud Sioux Tribe was the first to apply for the grant and do the training.
"To have a community pull together this quickly to offer the training is pretty impressive," said Rachel Jacky, a trainer from Portland, Oregon.
The purpose of CERT training is to provide private citizens with the basic skills and knowledge required to take care of themselves and respond to their communities' needs in the aftermath of a disaster. A CERT team is especially critical in the first three days following a disaster when conditions may prevent access by emergency response personnel.
The 21-hour training involved disaster preparedness, disaster fire suppression, disaster medical operations, light search and rescue operations, and pre- and post-storm CERT operations.
The week culminated with a series of realistic practice exercises in triage, fire suppression, extrication and search and rescue, all at the Mission Fire Department. Several Todd County High School students volunteered to be "disaster victims" for the exercise and were made up to look the part.
Bill Long, director of the RST Emergency Preparedness Program, said he was pleased with participants' response to the training, "with the amount of people here and the interest they're showing, I'm confident if something happens, there'll be people to help."
Long said he hopes to offer CERT training in other Rosebud Reservation communities.