Community Emergency Response Team training started tonight. Here’s what I got out of it:
Well, that a big, fat binder filled with such scintillating (and useful!) information as “At the end of this unit you should be able to identify the roles and responsibilities for community preparedness, to include government, community leaders from all sectors, and the public.”
I kept wondering why “the public” and “leaders” were always separate things in the CERT book when in every real-world disaster, “the public” becomes the leaders.
I kept wondering how I ever — ever! — got through high school. Or heck, not just high school, but 12 years of government schooling. Because it was just like this. Day after endless day. Year after endless year. Even though it’s been decades, tonight brought it all back as though I were in horrible Miss Williamson’s horrible eighth grade class again: the excruciating boredom, the incredulous indignation at being talked down to, the emphasis on being able to categorize and regurgitate pointless databits rather than do things, the acute discomfort of sitting in a rigid chair in rigid formation while someone drones on and on (and on!), repeating things I either already know or don’t want or need to know.
While the big, fat CERT book was saying, “The Emergency Operations Plan (EOP) … assigns responsibility to organizations and individuals for carrying out specific actions …” the earnest little AmeriCorps volunteer leading tonight’s session was repeating the exact same earthquake-and-tsunami PowerPoint presentation she gave last month for the general public.
Arrgh! I kept wondering how the other attendees could stand it, because each and every one of them had more experience than I. They were nurses, EMTs, sheriff’s deputies, ham radio operators. If I was bored, surely they must have felt like their brains were being vacuumed out of their skulls.
I take nothing away from you who’ve taken CERT or other types of emergency training. In fact, extra credit to you for being able to sit through nearly 30 hours of this sh*te to get your certification. I’m also sure that, buried deep in this course there’s bound to be some useful stuff like proper use of fire extinguishers and how to lift an injured person onto a stretcher. I would like to know that stuff. I would like to practice that stuff.
And I wouldn’t mind at all having a cool green hard hat like the ones in the world’s most boring video (“CERT in Action,” which had a lot in common with the film strips they showed in the fifth grade, the ones where the film kept breaking and that was the most interesting part).
But I will never earn my hard hat. Because after two hours I snuck out to take a break (feeling as though I should ask for a hall pass, lest I end up in detention), then came back into the classroom only long enough to gather my big, fat CERT book and my cup of tea (drinking in class — five demerits!) and creep off to the parking lot feeling as if I’d made a Major Escape.
If there’s a Hell, you can forget the flames and vats of boiling oil. It’ll be an eternity spent being talked at like this.
I’ll go through the big, fat book looking for usefulness and will try to learn or buff up on any of that. But no, I won’t be back for the next session.
Anyhow, among the only two or three tidbits of Actual Information I picked up tonight was the (unsurprising) fact that, in our area, there will be no actual CERT teams. Because our neighborhoods are so spread out that the handful of trained individuals will be expected to act on their own.
And so it will be.
But oh my goodness, if two hours of this bureaucratic, repetitious, down-talking nonsense was so unendurable, how did my young, hormonal self ever make it through high school without going postal?