MARTINEZ, Calif. – In the wake of back-to-back deadly fire seasons, Martinez’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) will be giving residents two opportunities to learn how to prepare for emergencies, said Brian Lindblom, Martinez CERT director.
“As we saw with the recent Paradise Fire and last year’s Napa and Sonoma County fires, when the event strikes there is no time to make a plan,” Lindbloom said.
“I’m afraid this will be a regular scenario,” he said. “We will cover information on how make a plan in advance and put into action so you can be a survivor and not a victim.”
Instead of the full 20-week course that trains a person to aid neighbors and the community as well as one’s own family, this course is just three hours long, is more personal and is taught in a single sitting, he said. Two dates are being offered, in hopes of reaching more people.
“These two trainings are for any interested person,” he said, although those at least high school student age and older would benefit most.
CERT is a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) program designed to train residents how to be self-sufficient and prepared for any major emergency or disaster.
The short class complements, but doesn’t replace CERT’s more extensive training program.
The comprehensive 20-hour classes teach preparedness, planning, supplies, fire safety, light search and rescue, disaster psychology, terrorism, team organization and CERT structure, basic medical aid, patient assessment and radio communications.
Locally, CERT is sponsored by the Martinez Police Department. Students completing the full course are eligible to be sworn in as volunteer city disaster service workers.
The next edition of that longer course will be taught in mid-March, and Lindbloom said he is hoping some of those who take the three-hour class may register for the full class.
The compact, three-hour personal preparedness course isn’t new, he said. It has been presented in Martinez before, usually to small audiences, such as church groups of up to a dozen, Lindbloom said.
It’s a condensed version that specializes in preparing individuals and families how to be ready for any type of emergency, explaining what they should assemble in advance, how to make a predesignated plan and how to be ready to go during an evacuation.
Lindbloom said the two tragic fire seasons inspired the local CERT organization to offer the short class to anyone who wants to attend, rather than wait to be asked.
Martinez is not immune. “It could happen here,” he said, especially if a fire were started on the city’s west side and raced down the hills toward homes and businesses.
In fact, the city has been threatened, he said. Residents were alarmed the afternoon of Aug. 17 when brush fires near California Highway 4 shut down part of the highway and flames came close to homes. Firefighters stopped the fire before it came close to the John Muir Historical Site, but not before it consumed 30 acres.
And 10 years ago, a wildfire that started near the same highway came close to Alhambra High School and the Contra Costa County Regional Medical Center, Lindbloom said.
Fires aren’t the only dangers that will be covered in the condensed personal preparation course, he said. Earthquakes and other disasters will be part of the discussion.
The Martinez CERT free Personal Emergency Preparedness Workshops will take place from 9 a.m. to noon Jan. 12, 2019, and will be repeated from 9 a.m. to noon Feb. 9, 2019. Both will take place in the Martinez City Council Chambers, 525 Henrietta St. Those interested may email firstname.lastname@example.org.