Welcome to Rhode Island CERT Training

Welcome aboard!  I’m happy you have joined me on the road.  This week we are in Warwick, Rhode Island .  Like many of the other terrific locations we’ve traveled to this year, we’re here teaching the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Train-the-Trainer and Program Manager.

The Nation’s Smallest State

The official name of the state is “Rhode Island and Providence Plantations” which was derived from the merger of two colonies.  Rhode Island colony was founded near present-day Newport, on what is now commonly called Aquidneck Island, the largest of several islands in Narragansett Bay.  Providence Plantations was the name of the colony founded by Roger Williams in the area now known as the City of Providence.  The state’s official nickname is the “Ocean State” which is a reference to the state’s geography, since Rhode Island has several large bays and inlets that amount to about 14% of its total area.

Rhode Island was the first of the 13 original colonies to declare independence from British rule, declaring itself independent on May 4, 1776, two months before any other colony. The State was also the last of the thirteen original colonies to ratify the United States Constitution.

Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency (RIEMA)

This New England state is the smallest in the country.  It is also the eighth least populous, but the second most densely populated.  And with population density comes greater risk.  There are many different types of hazards and disasters, both natural and man-made that can potentially impact residents in the state including:

  • Winter Storms
  • Flooding
  • Hurricanes
  • Extreme heat
  • Terrorism & Biological attack
  • Technology
  • Civil and Political

Should one (or more) of theses hazards occur and evolve into a disaster, individuals who have completed CERT training will be better prepared to respond to and cope with the aftermath.  Additionally, if a community wants to supplement its response capability after a disaster, civilians can be recruited and trained as neighborhood, business, and government teams that, in essence, will be auxiliary responders. These groups can provide immediate assistance to victims in their area, organize spontaneous volunteers who have not had the training, and collect disaster intelligence that will assist professional responders with prioritization and allocation of resources following a disaster.  CERT training will benefit anyone who takes it.  According to the Citizen Corps CERT website , there are 15 listed CERT teams in Rhode Island.

Providence Emergency Management  (PEMA )

Wow, take a look at PEMA’s web site (click on the link).  The PEMA website is a very attractive site with a lot of good information.  Pay attention to “Ready Providence”, “Student Tools for Emergency Planning” (STEP) and “’Operation Smart Exit” which are three unique initiatives.

Emergency Volunteer Services (EVS)

The Providence Emergency Volunteer Service (EVS) was formed in 2008 and operates under the direction of the City of Providence’s Emergency Management Agency (PEMA).  EVS is the result of the combination of two long-time Providence volunteer groups; the American Red Cross Shelter Group (ARC-SG) and the Providence Community Emergency Response Team (P-CERT).

EVS operates to assist Providence EMA and other municipal departments with manpower and equipment during emergencies and municipal events.  EVS volunteers could potentially assist in any of the following activities; Severe Weather Monitoring, Emergency Operations Center Support, Communications, Emergency Preparedness Education, Point of Distribution Management, Traffic Control, and Emergency Scene Lighting.

New Christian Generation Church

We have several students in our class who are representing the city of Providence and are volunteers with the city’s Emergency Management Agency.  What’s really interesting is that these individuals are involved in an effort through their church to deliver CERT training to community individuals who speak Spanish as their primary language.  With the diversity in our communities, having language specific classes is becoming more important to ensuring all citizens have the opportunity to be a “part of the solution’.

The church is the “Nueva Generacion Cristiana” (New Christian Generation Church) which is a small non-denominational Christian church in Providence.  Realizing that faith-based organizations have the opportunity to greatly impact community preparedness, several members of the church have received basic CERT training.  Looking forward, the church leadership is now working with the local “Coalition RI”, which represents several churches in the surrounding area, to bring preparedness training to their church members as well.

In addition to CERT training, PEMA partnered with Rhode Island Department of Health and offered (for the first time in the United States) the “Mass Antibiotic Dispensing Training Course” delivered entirely in Spanish.

Looking forward into the next year, the church has several initiatives under consideration that taken individually could prove to have a strong impact on the community’s preparedness (resiliency) but when bundled could be an exponential influence.  Looking forward the church would like to train 100 individuals in CERT.  They would also like to obtain a CERT trailer that could be used both in training and as a deployable resource in disaster response.  A third key project under consideration is training a group of Chaplin’s who could go out and render emotional first aid to disaster victims in the community.

As I’ve said before, I think faith-based efforts, like those under-taken by the Nueva Generacion Cristiana, will prove to be significant in the long-run in helping communities become better prepared for disasters.  I applaud their forward thinking as they continue to move forward and wish them much success.

So, tomorrow we will continue reviewing our Basic CERT material as well as work on improving our instructor skills.  One of the exercises our students will work through is our infamous “teach-backs”.  Tomorrow, I’ll also introduce you one of our students who is actively involved with a program called “Ready Rhode Island”.  I hope you’ll come back tomorrow.  Until then, I’ll leave you with these pictures from class today.

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