C-CERT Team Trained to Assist Wesleyan Community in Disaster Situations

Wesleyan's Campus Community Emergency Response Team (C-CERT) gathered on Jan. 11 to welcome 18 new members and recite an oath led by Middletown's Office of Emergency Management officers. During a 20-hour training session held Jan. 9-11, the new C-CERT members learned to assist first responders, provide immediate assistance to victims, organize volunteers at a disaster site and improve the safety of the Wesleyan community.

Wesleyan’s Campus Community Emergency Response Team (C-CERT) gathered on Jan. 11 to welcome 18 new members and recite an oath led by Middletown’s Office of Emergency Management officers. During a 20-hour training session held Jan. 9-11, the new C-CERT members learned to assist first responders, provide immediate assistance to victims, organize volunteers at a disaster site and improve the safety of the Wesleyan community.

On Jan. 11, a small explosion in Usdan University Center’s mechanical room left several staff and students trapped inside with possible injuries.

“We’ve got a situation,” says Bill Nelligan, director of environmental health, safety and sustainability. “Please gather your gear and head to the basement.”

Vinnie Agosta, desktop support specialist, uses leveraging and cribbing to remove a trapped victim during C-CERT training.

Vinnie Agosta, desktop support specialist, uses leveraging and cribbing to remove a trapped victim during C-CERT training.

A group of six Wesleyan staff members, trained in light search and rescue techniques, quickly prepare for the task. They sport reflective vests, safety helmets, goggles and gloves, and carry a backpack equipped with flashlights, duct tape, first-aid kits, tools and blankets.

Team leader Allen Alonzo, associate director of information technology auxiliary services, breaks the team into pairs, or “buddies,” and coaxes the group into the dark mechanical room. He instructs the team to move towards the left and keep one hand on each other’s shoulder.

“Hello, this is Wesleyan’s Emergency Response Team. Can anyone hear me,” he shouts.

“Help me. Help! I’m trapped,” yells a male’s voice.

“I’m here,” says another, muffled by cement walls and obstructions.

Although this was a mock disaster scenario used for training purposes, the members of Wesleyan’s Campus Community Emergency Response Team (C-CERT) treated the disaster simulation with all seriousness. Within 13 minutes, Alonzo’s team discovered four injured victims in the mech room, all with different medical needs. The team treated the victims for shock, bleeding, airway obstruction and used a levering and cribbing method to safely release another trapped victim. Fellow C-CERT members played the role of victims.

“Had this been a real disaster, our Wesleyan CERT team would be ready to assist,” says recent C-CERT graduate Trish Holycross, administrative assistant in University Relations. “The training program taught us several valuable skills that we can use to help our campus community, home community and family. Hopefully we’ll never have a disaster situation where we’ll need to be deployed, but if so, we are prepared.”

Kris McQueeny, administrative assistant for the Theater Department, practices how to stop bleeding and apply a bandage during C-CERT training.

Kris McQueeny, administrative assistant for the Theater Department, practices how to stop bleeding and apply a bandage during C-CERT training.

The C-CERT training spanned three days and offered several classroom and hands-on lessons to ultimately prepare team members for a similar disaster. They studied medical operations, triage, search and rescue, fire suppression, disaster psychology, levering and cribbing and dealing with terrorism. The training program supplied the team with equipment and one MRE (Meals Ready to Eat) during a working-lunch.

“If we were at a situation, you might be handing these out to victims. You should try one first, just to know what you’re dealing with, and believe it or not, they’re quite good,” Nelligan says.

During the training, participants received two certificates from FEMA’s Emergency Management Institute after mastering the Incident Command System and command operations; and an additional certification from CERT after completing the 20-hour basic training course. Wesleyan’s CERT members have the option to take supplemental training in animal response, emergency communication, leadership, traffic and crowd management, flood response, firefighter rehab and more.

“Right now we have about 38 Wesleyan faculty, staff and students on the C-CERT team, and I’d encourage anyone in the Wesleyan community to consider joining,” Nelligan says. “The bigger our team can get, the better we can assist the Wesleyan community.”

CERT was originally developed by the Los Angeles Fire Department in response to earthquake disasters and later adapted as an “all-hazards” course. Anyone interested in becoming a C-CERT member should e-mail Bill Nelligan at wnelligan@wesleyan.edu. For more information on CERT, visit this website.

View more photos of C-CERT training below or in this Wesleyan Facebook photo gallery.

 

Sherri Condon, accounting specialist, and Mark Grabulis, ITS events temporary employee, learn to use a fire extinguisher at C-CERT training.

Sherri Condon, accounting specialist, and Mark Grabulis, ITS events temporary employee, learn to use a fire extinguisher at C-CERT training.

C-CERT trainees Frantz Williams, director of parent relations, and Kathleen Roberts, residential operations coordinator, use the "buddy system" to suppress a fire.

C-CERT trainees Frantz Williams, director of parent relations, and Kathleen Roberts, residential operations coordinator, use the “buddy system” to suppress a fire.

All C-CERT participants received a backpack containing a helmet, safety goggles, tools, a blanket, a first-aid kit and more.

All C-CERT participants received a backpack containing a helmet, safety goggles, tools, a blanket, a first-aid kit and flashlight.

If this shaving cream was a contaminate, how can you remove your medical gloves without getting the contaminate on your own skin? C-CERT trainee Gretchen Streiff, assistant director of student activities and leadership development, gives it a try.

If this shaving cream was a contaminate, how can you remove your medical gloves without getting the contaminate on your own skin? C-CERT trainee Gretchen Streiff, assistant director of student activities and leadership development, gives it a try.

Trainee Charles Carroll, assistant technical director and scenery specialist, practices a head-tilt, chin-lift to open the airway.

Trainee Charles Carroll, assistant technical director and scenery specialist, practices a head-tilt, chin-lift to open the airway.

C-CERT trainees practice triage in Usdan's activities room.

C-CERT trainees practice triage in Usdan’s activities room. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

 

Olivia Drake

Olivia (M.A.L.S. '08) is editor of the Wesleyan Connection newsletter and campus photographer. I have two dogs, five chickens and 30 house plants. I like snow, photographing firemen and enjoying "stinky" cheeses. Send me your story ideas to newsletter@wesleyan.edu. 

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