As you have seen in all your training, you never know when the ‘big one’ is going to hit. That is why you should review the contents of your backpack regularly and ensure that it all stays together in a state of readiness.
Saratoga CERT Baseball cap
Yellow reflective safety vest
Plastic Water bottle
Energy Food bars
Eyeglasses (if needed)
Pad of paper and/or CERT standard forms assortment
Pencil or pens
All-in-one shutoff tool
Gauze pads (20)
Gauze rolls (4)
Non-latex exam gloves ( a few pairs)
Note: Items shown in italics are not provided by the Saratoga CERT program and must be obtained yourself.
A few things to note with your backpack. The Nitrile (non-latex) gloves do degrade over time. If you keep these in your backpack in the trunk of your car, you should check and/or replace them annually.
For you homework, print off a copy of this one page checklist and take a look at your backpack. You can refresh any missing items at our next skills-building exercise on October 28th.
Whenever we might be called upon to provide triage in an environment, what do we need to do first? Get a plan of action. Is the environment safe to enter? Do we have the necessary personal protective equipment? Who is going in? Will the search be clock-wise or counter-clockwise?
After we have a sufficient plan, we need to quickly evaluate any victim’s injuries and provide the best judgement of severity of injury. During the evaluation phase of each survivor, we follow the RPM acronym. This is in both our training manual as well as the Field Operations Guide (FOG). It is a good idea to re-familiarize ourselves with this acronym.
R – Respirations
P – Profusion
M – Mental state
Remember, also the triage categories:
Red – Immediate
Yellow – Delayed
Green – Minor (walking wounded)
Black – Deceased
Now, getting back to the RPM triage evaluation, we start with a callout to see if any can walk to the sound of your voice. You might actually get a few survivors to come to you and be considered ‘walking wounded’ and marked as Minor.
Then, you systematically go through the RPM on each person we encounter. Any failure of a step results in them being identified as ‘Immediate’.
Are they breathing?
Yes, over 30/min? — Immediate
No, reposition and recheck.
Now breathing? — Immediate
No — Deceased
Blanch test or radial pulse
Capillary refill in less than 2 seconds?
No — Immediate
Can follow simple commands?
No — Immediate
Yes — Delayed
You see that we can quickly determine if a survivor is in need of immediate attention, or can be delayed. We should be able to determine this in around 30 seconds to one minute each.
When performing this RPM triage evaluation of a survivor, speak calmly. Don’t promise anything like ‘You’re going to be alright’. Try to calm them down. Just by talking to them, you will be getting a good judgement of their mental state. Also, it’s a good idea to identify yourself and that you need to check on their condition. Ask for permission if you can. Convey to them that you need to check on the other survivors and we will be back shortly to assist in getting everyone out.
Some of the other tasks we can perform while doing this quick triage of survivors is to control any excessive bleeding. For that reason, it is a good idea to keep a quantity of gauze pads in your vest when performing the triage.
Finally, ensure that you always stay in pairs of rescuers and one is evaluating the survivor and the other is scribing some notes.
Questions to consider:
With a significant event occurring at random, we don’t know who will be available to assist or who might be available at any rally point. Some of the ‘old-timers’, leaders, or more experienced folks may not be able to assist. That being said, any assembly of CERT personnel needs to have the initial few people who show up start to form a working group.
The way I see it, when the first person arrives, he or she should begin and assume a role of Incident Commander. They should grab a piece of paper (or, more effectively, an ICS-211 form) and log themselves in. As subsequent personnel show up, they can also sign in. The Incident Commander can transfer duties to any more qualified individual if they like as members arrive. The Incident Commander can also ask for someone to be a scribe and to manage the sign-in sheet.
Next, a backpack checklist can be reviewed to ensure that all members have the necessary supplies and Personal Protective Equipment. Any member that is missing something can be assigned roles that do not require that equipment. For instance, someone missing work gloves or hard hat might be ineligible to perform Search and Rescue, however, they might be equipped enough to perform a role within medical operations.
While members are being signed-in, one question should be to enquire if anyone has their amateur radio license and has communications with the EOC. If so, that person can be our communications person until such time that an embedded Amateur Radio Operator is sent to our rally point.
When the number of members present is sufficient, it might be a nice time to ask someone to take on the following roles:
This role should review the sign-in sheet and see if members have identified any special skills, desires, or even restrictions. Then, they can sit tight until the IOC identifies an incident that needs attention.
This role should see if an amateur radio operator is available. If so, a query should go out to the EOC asking if the city’s caches have been activated and are staffed. Knowing where possible equipment and supplies are and lead times would be important to assist when teams are dispatched.
This role should immediately call to the EOC for a number of FRS radios, an ICS bag, and a few Triage ‘Go’ boxes.
In summary, you cannot count on any Incident Command skilled personnel being present at the start of an event. It is incumbent on each of you to have a few blank forms or, at minimum a pad of paper and some pens or pencils. Having a standard backpack checklist and reviewing it to ensure you are always prepared is also a very good practice.
We want our members to feel they have the skills necessary to assume any role that comes up. With our current Saratoga CERT organization, we may not have the necessary Division Leaders or starter supplies available at the start of any real event. That is the reason for this article. It is necessary to self-assemble and to build out an effective Incident Command Post starting with the first member arriving at any rally point.
I also hope the following simple scenarios might help stimulate your thinking. Ensuring that all allocation of resources comes from the EOC is important. Ensuring that effective two-way communications with the EOC is just as important. Finally, being responsible for the members present at a rally point is paramount. Knowing who they are, what skills they bring, to what activity they have been deployed to, and their safety and welfare are important. To that end, some level of paperwork is necessary to know who is present, where they are, and what activity they have been deployed to.
Think through the following scenarios to see what you might do in any of the following situations. The questions on each scenario are not exhaustive. They are just there to stimulate some thinking.
You have assumed the Incident Command role at a rally point. Someone comes in and lets you know of a neighboring house that might be structurally unstable and there might, possibly be someone inside.
You have assumed the Incident Command role at a rally point. You have 6 people ready for assignment. The EOC asks that once you have 4 members available, send them to pick a dumpster off a crash test dummy (sound familiar?). Then, the EOC needs another 4 members to setup a triage site in front of the neighboring elementary school.
You are readying your members as they are assembling. You ask the EOC if you can get starter supplies. Either there is no reply from the EOC or there is no logistic team available to assist.
For further reading, please checkout:
ICS Training (FEMA)
1. Division layout / opportunities
a. Map : http://saratogacert.org/app
2. Organization / opportunities
3. Recent activity review
a. Triage / Medical Ops – Lori Stafford (August 24th, 2017)
b. County EOC Communications drill – Morris Jones (September 14th, 2017)
c. Everbridge alert status – Michael Taylor
4. Fall exercise planning
a. Designed and reviewed with SCCFD
b. Objectives being assembled now
c. Need two more assistants to help lead this exercise
d. Homework for ALL to prepare for this exercise
Here is an update on the activation protocol for the Saratoga CERT organization
Previously, we were ‘self-activated’ when we felt an earthquake greater then 6.5. This is NO longer valid.
The current procedures require an activation from an authorized City representitive. The three Saratoga city leaders who can activate the CERT Disaster Service Workers are: City Manager, Public Works Director, Parks and Recreation Director. When we are activated, the Everbridge alert system will send a notivation to the membership roster through the following means: cell phone, home phone, then email. This alert message should indicate where you should rally to if your are able to assist.
If you do not receive an alert or are unsure if we have been activated, please follow these instructions:
Remember, we are all just spontaneous volunteers until such time as we are activated. Following these procedures will help assemble CERT members at a common location to assist if/when we are activated. If it appears that the disaster is not be significant enough for formal activation, we can still share our damage assessments with fire personnel, Public Works staff, or other interested leadership.
Finally, if you are also a licensed amateur radio operator, please monitor the SARA repeaters K6SA (146.655- 114.8 Hz / 443.150+ 100Hz) for any net or traffic.
On Thursday, September 14th, Santa Clara County is having an emergency drill. Saratoga will open up its EOC and radio communications room on Thursday, September 14th between 09:00 and 09:30 AM. Michael Taylor will send an alert to all Saratoga CERT members via EVERBRIDGE. The alert will ask you to respond to the alert message. We ask that everyone please respond to the alert. (Calendar entry: http://saratogacert.org/event/saratoga-cert-participation-in-santa-clara-county-emergency-drill/)
SARA/RACES ham members should plan on signing into a drill net on the K6SA repeater at about 9am on 9/14.
(Note that earlier messages on this drill included instructions for “turning out” with your CERT backpacks…those plans have been cancelled.)
The quarterly County communications drill will be a “stay at home” exercise of the Resource Net from Level 1 through Level 3. (Something we don’t do very often – but we all will depend on the process when the next major earthquake arrives.) Any County MAC or ham is invited to participate. The operational period is 14:00 to 16:00. The drill event will be a simulation of a self-alerting major earthquake, two simulated aftershocks, simulated (or real) activation of participating City EOC radio rooms, and hopefully several mutual aid requests which need to be fulfilled from available MACs/MITs and other available ham radio operators, and finally a simulation of assigning/dispatching and travel tracking.
The drill planning documents as well as some materials needed for field communicators are posted at the county website: http://www.scc-ares-races.org/drills/drill_2017-08-19.html
If you would like to participate, this email is the “short form” of the instructions. You are welcome to read the entire detailed ICS 202 document that is posted on the website.
If your city wants you to do contact the city first for preliminary safety assessments, city Mike-Mike information reports, etc., please follow your city’s in-place instructions. If in doubt, contact your EC. Otherwise, please join us on the Resource Net when able. If you are from outside the county, then please pick one of our cities for Mike-Mike reports.
There is one change for this drill for resource net repeaters: the W6ASH 2m machine is not available for linking at this time. We will be linking W6ASH 440 MHz with AA6BT and N6NAC. Please see the voice frequency list on the county website for the frequencies. The County EOC Radio Room will provide Net Control for this drill and will open the Resource Net.
The first hour of the drill is divided into 3 (three) 20-minute phases: first, the initial drill earthquake followed by two simulated aftershocks. These will be announced by Net Control. For each phase, we would like you to read an observation then select a suitable Mike-Mike level for that observation. The table of observations is downloadable from the above drill web page. Select your letter as follows:
First phase: first letter of your FCC callsign suffix.
Second phase: last letter of your first name.
Third phase: first letter of your last name.
Then follow the observation for that letter. Reminder that the Mike-Mike scale used by SCCo ARES/RACES is documented at: http://www.scc-ares-races.org/MMScale.html . Due to priorities (triage) and message load, Net Control may not be able to “service” your M-M report. If a new phase is announced, please reset and select your next letter, next observation, and next M-M level for the new phase. Said differently: due to prioritization of responses, lower level M-M information reports may be skipped.
During the third phase of the drill, some cities may announce their activation and the Resource Net transitions to Level 2. We will follow Level 2 procedures by asking impacted hams to move their city net. Come on back to the Resource Net when released by your city. Again, follow Net Control instructions.
The fourth phase of the drill is from 15:00 to 16:00. Mike-Mike report collection stops. Net Control will be prioritizing three activities: 1) asking for communicators that are available for an assignment (this may be before we announce any simulated assignments), 2) assigning operators and dispatching operators for simulated Mutual Aid response to a location within the county, 3) tracking simulated travel and allowing for periodic health and welfare checks for those simulating travel. Again, follow Net Control’s instructions.
For indicating availability: for MACs also include your Types and Qualification levels. If you are not a MAC, then indicate “field communicator” and/or “net control” ability. If you are assigned and dispatched, please simulate traveling to the assigned location and try to give accurate health&welfare responses for location and odometer updates as if you were actually traveling to the destination. If you get to simulate arriving at the destination (time permitting) , please inform Net Control. Please do the homework assignment (see below). NOTE: for Mutual Aid Request resource assignments, the County will be prioritizing available MACs over other available communicators. This last hour will likely be quite busy. Please be patient and understanding that Net Control may be dealing with a heavy message load and due to prioritizing (triage) may not get to everyone.
The drill ends at 16:00 and the Resource Net will be closed. All participants are expected to have a received an awesome practice opportunity and learning experience.
Thank you for your consideration of participating in this drill as a field communicator.
Please have your Thomas Guide or other map resource available so that you can get an accurate route from your location to the street address, if you are assigned and dispatched. The street address will be real and may be anywhere in Santa Clara County.
If you are using a “smart phone” for your map resource (e.g. Google Maps), please prepare for this drill by updating your offline areas prior to the event. During the event, please put your phone in airplane mode and turn off WiFi. Practice for a real event dispatch as phones and Internet services may be out.