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CERT Training Pays Off
October 18, 2012 -
PHOTO BY KERRY BENNASSAR
A burned-out hulk was what remained from a car fire, Sept. 29. Kerry Bennassarís CERT training proved to be invaluable.
On Saturday, Sept. 29, Kerry Bennassar completed the annual Topanga CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) training course.
The very next day, she and her children were driving home on Old Canyon Road when they noticed a car on fire.
I was amazed at how quickly my CERT training kicked in, Bennassar recalled. I called to the driver to get out and away from the car, then yelled FIRE! CALL 911.
I stopped a car and asked if the driver had a fire extinguisher. He did. Benassar sprayed the fire. After five seconds, the fire did not go out and, as I learned in CERT training, one needs to move away at that point. The fire was too big.
CERT not only teaches the proper use of a fire extinguisher, but also how to determine if a fire is beyond your ability to control it.
At that point, Bennassar went into protection mode. She put out a cone and directed traffic around the burning car, keeping people at a safe distance until the firefighters came.
Kerry was doing the most good for the greatest number of people, a basic tenet of CERT.
The car was soon engulfed in flames, she recalled, and the firefighters did a double take when they saw me. "Weren't you just in the CERT class?"
Bennassar sends a big thank you to Brad Davis, our CERT instructor, and to Scott Ferguson, our Topanga CERT organizer, for teaching us to stay calm and cautious during an emergency.
Now I can show how relevant it is to be prepared for any situation, especially living in Topanga, where we need to be self-reliant and ready for anything. Thank you CERT!
CERT TEAMS ALWAYS IN TRAINING
The following Thursday, members of the Topanga CERT team gathered at the Topanga Library community meeting room for their monthly meeting, where they heard Deputy Sheriff Wilson Lee address their concerns about liability coverage while acting in their capacity as Sheriffs volunteers.
Every volunteer, whether they are an official volunteer with the Sheriffs Department such as CERT, or a private citizen jumping in to help, needs to know their scope of training, he said.
A volunteers scope of training is simply the level of skillssuch as CPR and first aid they have been taught within a certified training program.
When responding to an emergency, as long as you stay within your scope of training, you should be legally protected under the states Good Samaritan Act.
A few years back, there was a bad car accident on the S-curves and the driver was trapped. A friend of the victim witnessed the accident, and, sensing that the car could catch on fire, pulled the victim free of the vehicle. The victim promptly sued the rescuer/friend claiming injuries sustained from being pulled out of the car. The good Samaritan rescuer lost that case.
Recognizing that this judgment could prevent citizens from trying to help in emergencies, the state legislature rushed through new legislation that now provides more legal protection for good Samaritans who attempt to help victims.
Members of the public who take the free CERT training will expand their personal scope of training, which may allow them to spring into action in an emergency the way Kerry did with the car fire, observed Scott Ferguson, Public Information Officer for Topanga CERT.
Everyone should take the CERT training so they have the confidence to help in these types of situations. They should also learn CPR and take additional first aid classes. That knowledge could save a life one day," said Ferguson.
For more information on CERT, CPR and other emergency skills training, e-mail Scott Ferguson at topangaCERT@verizon.net, or Brad Davis at firstname.lastname@example.org.