Volunteers respond to mock disaster

Published 2:56 pm Tuesday, January 24, 2012

AmeriCorps members respond to a mock disaster as a final test for the CERT program. Pictured from left to right are Susan Rogers, Jerry Stephens and Cynthia Smith. (Advocate Staff/Patty Vaughan)

An EF4 tornado has hit Butler County. Twelve people are dead, 25 are inured and eight are trapped inside the Greenville Community building.

This scenario was presented to the 19 AmeriCorps members in their final training session and graduation in the Community Emergency Response Team program on Friday.

“This is the final exercise for the CERT team for the AmeriCorps Instructional Support Team,” Program Director Carol McArthur said. “They have been taking this course for the past 20 hours and this is their final course. It is a disaster that is a mock disaster and they are to use what they have learned for past 20 hours.”

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Local citizens, students from Greenville Middle and High School and Hwashin America Corporation workers played the part of victims in the disaster. AmeriCorps members were then responsible for breaking into four teams to complete different tasks such as doing search and rescue, working with a fire behind the building and taking care of the wounded.

“This particular disaster is an EF4 tornado that has hit the school,” McArthur said. “We pretend that part of this building has been collapsed and there are injured individuals here and people who have died. They made up a triage of their medical center here with their equipment.”

Butler County Emergency Management Agency Director Shirley Sandy is ecstatic to have more citizens trained in CERT.

“We now have more citizens trained in responding in their neighborhoods and with their families in how to prepare and respond to a disaster,” Sandy said. “They did a great job, and it went wonderful. We had a few little obstacles but they did a great job and it was realistic.”

To help with the program, EMA and CERT representatives came from Houston County and Tuscaloosa County. The Greenville Fire Department, the Greenville Police Department and representatives from the Georgia CERT program also played a role in training and helping with the program.

“(The members) will be taking refresher courses once a year after this,” McArthur said. “This is important because if something were to happen, we need a group of individuals that can come in and start search and rescue and maintain a medical facility until we get help from the outside. If it happens during a school day, these members are already in the schools and they will be invaluable to help the students.”