Preparing for emergencies: Forum, CERT class coming up

To help islanders prepare for emergencies and disasters, VashonBePrepared will offer a free five-hour informational forum on Saturday, March 31. For those who want more concentrated training in disaster response, the multi-week Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) course will follow.

The Saturday forum will contain much of the same information provided in two similar forums last year, including household preparations for food, water and medications; electrical and gas safety, and island communications when phones are down.

CERT leader Jan Milligan said this 5-hour course is being offered again for a simple reason:

“We want Vashon households to be ready for two weeks of isolation from the mainland,” she said.

Additional topics will include fire safety and the use of fire extinguishers, teaming up effectively with neighbors, and citizen groups that support the work of the sheriff’s and fire departments.

The forum will meet from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Penny Farcy Building on Bank Road.

That event will kick off the CERT course; the basic course includes 45 hours of education, including safety training around utility problems — such as gas leaks and damaged power lines — first aid, searching for a lost person and sizing up emergency situations, among other skills. For those who want to join the active CERT team, supplemental training will include advanced first aid, use of two-way radios, and map reading and compass navigation. The CERT course will include the five hours of household safety training on March 31 and six subsequent Friday classes that will meet from 6 to 10 p.m. April 6 to May 11. For those who want to join the CERT team and respond in emergency and disaster scenarios, the Friday night class will continue through June 8 and include an eight-hour drill on June 3.

To register for either the March 31 forum or the CERT course, email Jan Milligan at cert@ vashonbeprepared.org or call her at 206-949-1184.

— Susan Riemer

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