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Irvine Celebrates the City’s 100th CERT Training Class

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On March 20th, the latest crop of volunteer trainees graduated from the City’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program, capping 28 hours of instruction and hands-on work spanning eight sessions.
 
The ceremony is more than a turning point in the trainees’ lives. As the culmination of Irvine’s 100th CERT class, it marks a milestone in the City’s 25-year disaster preparedness effort.
 
“CERT is dedicated to engaging the whole community in disaster preparedness by educating and training its members to be self-sufficient during a disaster and to effectively assist others and their families,” said Christine Tully, emergency management program specialist in the Irvine Police Department (IPD) and the City’s point person for CERT. “Our vision is to make Irvine a resilient city, effectively prepared to recover following a disaster, through preparedness training, education, and community outreach.”
 
Jaci Woods was on the citizen’s advisory team that was instrumental in the creation of the CERT program, and she was a graduate of the very first class back in 1999. A lot of people worked to bring CERT to the City, Woods says, but former Marine Joe Condon, now deceased, “deserves more credit than anybody” for bringing it about.
 
Woods also credits then-Lt. Bill Whalen of IPD for spearheading the effort after his hiring in 1999. Whalen went on to become a commander in the IPD and then police chief in El Segundo, retiring in 2021.
 
Since its establishment in 1999, nearly 3,000 people who live or work in Irvine have been through the program, Tully said. It provides a comprehensive program of training in emergency preparedness, fire safety, emergency medical care, search and rescue, and disaster psychology.

Specific skills taught include:

  • Steps to prepare for a disaster
  • How to reduce fire hazards
  • Fire suppression: strategies, resources and how to extinguish a burning liquid
  • Techniques for controlling bleeding, opening airways and treating shock
  • Triage in emergency conditions
  • Planning and requirements for search and rescue situations
  • Debris removal and victim extraction
  • Rescuer safety

“Government services will be delayed following a large-scale disaster,” Tully says. “The CERT basic training program teaches students how to be better prepared to survive on their own in the days and weeks after disaster strikes.  It’s an eye-opening program that inspires preparedness, could save lives, and ultimately could lessen the impact on our community.”  
 
Woods, who was in that first class back in 1999, graduated again from the 100th class this week. “It’s a lot, but it goes by so fast,” she said of the training. Her favorite part? “Putting out the fires at the Fire Department training session!”

Roger Bloom

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