Last year Patric Cohen, CERT co-coordinator for Battalion 9, showed up at a PPCC meeting and gave a most inspiring introduction about Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). Since my eye is on community resilience, it only made sense to take the course.
I am so happy I did. It was a fascinating subject; the teachers were dynamic, and I never saw a classroom so engaged as we were. I finished the course excited, enthusiastic, and feeling empowered.
After that, I didn't know quite what to do. I had this training, but no one to team up with as the "T" in CERT implies. So I got in touch with Patric, and he told me he had run up against some limitations in setting up the teams due to LAFD's confidentiality policy. Also, Patric is a very busy professional with limited time, so it was difficult to get around to pulling it together. I told him I would help.
In a way I think this LAFD's confidentiality policy is a blessing in disguise. It means we have to be more proactive in our publicity of CERT to find the volunteers. More publicity means more outreach and the greater chance of really doing something big here. Also, anyone willing to freely give their contact information to Patric is someone who will be committed, and commitment is what is needed to be successful in this venture.
Now here is the interesting part. Patric and I drafted a letter publicizing CERT for the Palisadian-Post and here on Patch. The Palisadian-Post's letter showed up in last Thursday's edition and in Patch on Monday. On Saturday was the Rustic Canyon fire. The fire was sandwiched by the two articles, and we rarely have fires, so this was particularly noteworthy. I don't think having a fire is a good thing, but I do think these wake-up calls will be a necessary component in driving the CERT recruitment.
I immediately thought about my posts Perfect Timing and My Sweet Praying Mantis. The praying mantis message was: "Learning to wait for the right moment to strike." We did not know it was the right moment; and yet it was. And this experience only strengthens my belief in perfect timing--how sometimes things really do line up perfectly when something is meant to be. This leads me to believe this disaster preparedness enterprise is not only meant to be, but will be. This is very encouraging. I have renewed my optimism for Pacific Palisades in spite of my doubts expressed in my last post. Perhaps we really can push through and mend those bridges even if there are a few fireworks along the way. We'll just have to wait and see.
In any case, other CERT activities are happening in Pacific Palisades than just publicity. In October Palisades Charter High School will be holding an on-campus CERT course for students and staff. I think the students will love it with the added benefit of developing a sense of importance that will do wonders for their self-esteem. I am hoping being CERT certified becomes a fashionable credential among the young who feel disempowered with the state of their world.
These teen CERT programs are very successful across the nation; and I have no doubt will be here too. I hope we are able to engage the teens in the larger community effort for disaster preparedness, making them feel connected to the community where they live and learn. And you know they will go home and hound their parents to prepare or become CERT certified; and many parents will listen. You can't ask for better promoters than the young.
Lastly, I wanted to inform you there is a program called Neighborhood Team Program, an off-shoot of the CERT program. You need not be CERT certified to participate. It's a less intensive course designed for neighborhood teams of 10-20 to ultimately be lead by CERT certified individuals in your area. Whether you are CERT certified or not, it's worth looking into. Visit http://www.ntp-la.com/ntp.html if you are interested.
Another seed has been planted and is growing. We will be better off in more ways than I can name if this little seedling thrives in this garden I call community.
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