Should a major disaster occur in the city like the one in 2011 when strong winds knocked down trees and power lines, closing down some streets, South Pasadena Fire Department Chief Paul Riddle says it could be up to a week “if not longer,” before assistance arrives.
It’s for that reason, Riddle encourages citizens to take full advantage of the Community Emergency Response Team or simply CERT training classes offered by the local fire department during the year. The newest course, which consists of three sessions from 8 a.m. to noon, began at the South Pasadena Fire Station last Saturday.
“The program is designed to teach citizens basic skill sets in preparing for, responding to, and recovering from a disaster,” explained Riddle.
The course, including instruction on April 6, 13 and 20 from fire department officials, is the 11th since the program started in March of 2014 in South Pasadena. There are 31 participants signed up for the current class, bringing the total number of citizens trained to approximately 350, according to Riddle.
“We teach basic skill sets so our residents can be more prepared to respond and recover from a disaster,” he explained. “The more citizens we have trained the quicker we as a community will recover and get back to normal operations.”
Among the highlights, participants learn how use a fire extinguisher to put out an actual fire. Riddle says the search and rescue drill is high on the list of activities. “They have to search a dark room, find a victim and properly remove the patient from the room,” he said.
What will participants take away most from taking the course? Plenty, claims the fire chief.
Riddle says classes offer the basic in:
- Disaster first aid (controlling bleeding, splinting broken bones etc).
- Basic search and rescue techniques, proper use of fire extinguisher.
- How to shut off utilities on their house or business.
- Basic supplies to keep at their home, vehicle and business.
Not surprisingly with so many graduates of the program, Riddle says the feedback from the course has been very positive and he hopes more residents to register in the future.
“We encourage anyone who is interested in the program to call the fire station at (626) 403-7300 or visit the City of South Pasadena web page to sign up for the next training session.”
Riddle said the next training session is tentatively scheduled for October, or sooner if enough individuals signup.