CERT Comes to the GUSD

Photo courtesy of Lisa DUTTON GUSD members surround “victims” during an earthquake scenario as part of their CERT training.
Photo courtesy of Lisa DUTTON
GUSD members surround “victims” during an earthquake scenario as part of their CERT training.

Over 40 staff members of the Glendale Unified School District complete training that may save lives.

In preparation for a potential major disaster, 41 Glendale Unified School District principals and administrators received a three-day course in Community Emergency Response Training (CERT). The CERT program is intended to aid the public in the midst of a disaster, when emergency services may not be readily available. While first responders might be unable to aid due to a variety of factors such as road blockages or a lack of communication stemming from technological failures, CERT training emphasizes the development of self-reliant skills.

From June 25 to June 27, the 41 GUSD employees took part in three eight-hour sessions at Glendale Community College’s Professional Development Center.

With help from the Los Angeles  County Sheriff’s Crescenta Valley Station, CV CERT coordinators Paul and Lisa Dutton guided the GUSD staff through different scenarios, teaching them what they could expect and what they should do if the schools were stranded from the safety net of emergency services during a major crisis.

Though the Duttons have coordinated CERT training sessions in La Crescenta for years, Paul called this session with GUSD the “most important and biggest” of all.

“It was the chance to impact the lives of thousands of our area’s kids,” said Paul.

The Duttons provided a crash course on CERT basics: search and rescue operations, medical operations and triage, disaster psychology and even what to do in the event of a terrorist attack. The principals will have to take what they learned and adapt those lessons to their respective schools.

“You have to use what you have on hand and who you have on hand,” said Lisa. “Obviously the way you handle an evacuation at a high school would be very different from how you handle it at an elementary school.”

The training sessions culminated in a simulated post-earthquake disaster area. The principals and administrators employed their newly learned skills as they “rescued” students suffering from gruesome, artificial injuries, some in faux-unconscious states. The school district representatives were tested with various disaster response situations and graduated from their CERT training, with 24 hours of training under their belts.

“Student safety is a priority for GUSD,” said GUSD Superintendent Richard Sheehan.

The Duttons took their proposal for a training course for GUSD employees to Sheehan. Sheehan agreed and participated in the training.

“The Duttons’ expertise has benefitted all of our district’s administrators and will subsequently have a positive impact on the lives of all of our students.”

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