Tue04152014

Community

Los Altos PREPARE graduates first CERT class


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Members of Los Altos PREPARE CERT class practice their cribbing skills, left, by elevating a dumpster during graduation-day exercises Dec. 7.

The 21 Los Altos residents who graduated from Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training Dec. 7 represented a reinvigorated response to local efforts to boost emergency preparedness skills.

Inspired by a series of Town Crier articles on Los Altos Hills’ CERT training last spring, Los Altos resident Heidi Sloss set out to become a member – and realized that Los Altos no longer conducted CERT training. Although the city of Los Altos Recreation Department offers Personal Emergency Preparedness classes, CERT classes were offered only through the county.

Seeking an option that would make training more convenient and accessible for Los Altos residents, Sloss spearheaded the effort to resurrect CERT training this fall through Los Altos PREPARE, a Los Altos Community Foundation program that aims to connect, educate and prepare residents for responding to emergencies.

Following 15 hours of class instruction and skills building over five weeks, Los Altos participants applied their CERT experience in four hours of exercises that tested their knowledge and skills.

Volunteer CERT members and local fire personnel provided instruction to participants as they used fire extinguishers, practiced splinting and bandaging, performed search-and-rescue exercises, communicated via two-way radio and worked together to hoist heavy objects in simulated-incident scenarios.

Sloss said she plans to organize two more trainings in 2014. Los Altos CERT members who want to refresh their skills can enroll in a continuing education course.

“There just aren’t enough fire, police and paramedics to respond to a major emergency,” she said.

For more information on Los Altos PREPARE, visit losaltoscf.org/losaltosprepare.

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