CERT (Community Emergency Response Team)
Summer is here. Now what are you going to do? You could volunteer to be a victim to help train police or fire departments. It’s a lot of fun. This is a reprint of an article I wrote for a hearing loss newsletter years ago.
A few years ago, I was a victim of a bad car crash. Some of you may have been car crash victims too. Or maybe you were a victim of thief or fire or what ever. No one likes being a victim, unless… you are one of the volunteer victims for the NW CERT EXPO (Community Emergency Response Team) that was at the Washington State Fire Training Academy like I was on September 22, 2007.
At 7:00 Saturday, I drove in to the east side of North Bend to the fire academy. There were a lot of young people there. Most of them were high school students. I also met Donna from the Hearing, Speech and Deafness Center. She brought her friend Angela, both are neat people, and both are deaf.
The staff had scones and muffins on a tray with some fruit in a bowl. I filled out the forms, got my free t-shirt, and then waited in line to be made up so I would look like I had a head wound with blood coming out of my ears. They also painted some nice bruises on my face. I looked like I had a wrestling match with a train and lost. The teenagers of course wanted all the fake bones and glass coming out of their bodies. The grosser, the better. One girl wanted a stick to ‘go through her’. The stick was too big and long, so I took out my picket knife and whittled it down so it could be mounted and still look ‘cool’.
They had us victims divided into groups. Finally our group was called outside where they quickly told us some things and then we started walking down the hill. I didn’t hear what was said; I was just following along like cattle. We finally entered a building and went in a nice clean room with a fire truck inside and fire uniforms hanging up. We were told to hide and act hurt. Two different CERT groups came in to check us out and tie ribbons on us. Green means we’re hurt, but not too bad. Yellow means we’re hurt bad but not life threatening. Red means if we don’t make to the hospital soon, we’re going to the grave.
Lunch wasn’t too bad except because of a miss understanding I lead Donna and Angela to the wrong building for lunch. The staff and CERT people were eating there. The victims were to eat in the building that we first met. By the time we got there with all the teenagers there, we almost didn’t get lunch.
After lunch we were divided up in three groups. First group went to a ‘burning’ building. You could see the concrete building at one time did have a fire in it. Now it is black inside with what looked like a few smoke bombs going off. Another group was in a plane crash and the last group was in a car wreck. Donna and I were in the car crash with two girls in the back seat.
The staff knew that there were going to be one or more hard of hearing or deaf people, but they forget. Much of the time I had to guess at what to do. There was one woman there who although was not a translator did know ASL and often informed Donna and Angela what was happening.
Now I know we must educate people about hearing loss, but there are some things I guess can not be taught. When we were in that mocked car wreck; an ‘aid’ came to check us out. She saw I was ‘unconscious’ and said so. She then went to Donna’s side of the car and realized that Donna was conscious but was also deaf, and she told the others that. So far so good. Then I heard something that I knew I must be mishearing. I heard, “Deaf Lady, if you can hear me squeeze my hand.” Then I heard it again “Deaf Lady, Deaf Lady, if you can hear me squeeze my hand.” I finally said, “She really can’t hear you.”
“Well how do I communicate with her?” she asked.
“You can use a pencil and paper.” I answered.
“But I want to communicate with her.”
“Write her a note!” I said.
I don’t know what to say about this. I have a lot of thoughts though, like maybe a little more training for people with and without disabilities.
It was a fun day and I was very tired by the time I made it home. Maybe I’ll do it again sometime.