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Getting ready for 'the Big One'

Classes aim to prepare and empower residents to help each other.

April 20, 2011|By Sara Cardine, Special to the Valley Sun

A campus safety manager for Flintridge Prep, La Cañadan Michael Lyman saw taking the class as his professional duty. “It’s something fundamental,” he said of disaster preparedness. “Anyone who’s chosen the field should entertain the thought of doing it.”

CERT classes used to be run under FEMA but now are overseen by the Department of Homeland Security. Due to scaled-back budgets, trainers come in on regular shifts or volunteer on their days off to teach sessions, English said.

As classes progress, participants learn about fire suppression, medical treatment, light search and rescue and dealing with hazardous materials. In a demonstration at Saturday’s training, students took turns putting out small fires with an extinguisher. They learned to hold the extinguisher’s nozzle steady and make sweeping motions with it from the base of the fire upward.


The idea, Harper said, is to not only to give students information, but provide hands-on experience so they feel confident enough to act when the fires and injuries are real.

“Now they’ll feel a little more empowered to take care of themselves and their neighbors. That’s what we hope to do — empower them,” Harper said.

In the third and final CERT class, participants will be assigned roles to play in a simulated disaster drill. Some will be “injured” and others will organize search-and-rescue teams. One trainee will assume the role of incident commander in charge of organizing the entire team’s disaster response.

The things they learn today can and will be used eventually, English said.

“We’re on the center of the San Andreas fault line,” she added. “It’s not a matter of if, but when.”


The next series of CERT classes will be held at the Crescenta Valley Park Community Room June 11, 18 and 25. To register, or for a class schedule, visit or call (661) 287-3690.

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