DOMINICAN REPUBLIC 2017
CERT TRAINING IN THE
DISASTER TRAINING COURSE CONCLUDES IN COTUI
(5 April 2017) GMR celebrated its 50th project abroad last week in Cotui, Dominican Republic with an epic week of disaster response education, titled Citizens Emergency Response Training (or CERT). When disaster strikes without warning, many public safety agencies are overwhelmed and unable to assist everyone affected. A well-tested curriculum being taught within the United States, CERT creates emergency responders in the civilian population to act in the event of disaster. By creating a well-trained and prepared citizens response team, it takes a great deal of burden off the shoulders of emergency responders to handle larger incidents. The curriculum teaches response to different types of disasters including earthquakes and hurricanes, the most prevalent of natural disasters facing the DR. It includes responder safety, mitigating utilities and hazards, movement of large objects with levers, search techniques, fire suppression, triage of victims, patient care, movement of the wounded to care points, and structure stabilization with cribbing and shoring.
Day One was spent in class with 40 students in morning lecture on disasters. GMR utilizes local interpreters to translate our information to the students. A normal course in the United States takes more than double the time to teach abroad due to language barriers. We have been very fortunate to have a great team of interpreters including Luis DeLeon, Yolanda Mendoza, Scarlin Mendoza, and Zyann Mendoza. Each invested a great deal of time to make the course successful. The lecture material they translate is used as a foundation of education built upon in small groups as the students broke into skills labs covering topics such as: moving and stabilizing large objects, search techniques, and fire suppression.
Day Two focused primarily on patient care and treatment of disaster victims. After a short lecture, the class broke again into groups to practice their assessment and stabilization skills, bandaging and splinting techniques, patient carries and drags and learn the basics of triage. It was pretty remarkable how quickly the students learned and repeated the information. We really felt as though the class absorbed the information well despite the language barrier.
On Day Three, after a morning review, we created an epic scenario involving 20 simulated victims trapped in the rubble of building following a pretend earthquake. Students toppled over tables and chairs, became entangled in rubble and debris, while the second half of the group attempted to gain entry. The students encountered a blocked entrance with large pieces of iron they had to remove with levers and cribbing.
After gaining access, they discovered a chaotic scene of screaming victims needing wound management and splinting before stabilizing and moving them to a designated medical care point outside the building. As an instructor cadre, we expect to see ‘hiccups’ in this process and we use them as teaching moments. This class had none. They absolutely exceeded our expectations, moving quickly to search the building, treat and remove victims.
Following the completion of the three days of course material, the students gathered together along with a representative from the mayor’s office in order to receive certificates of completion. This final presentation is very meaningful to the students and was handled with a great deal of pomp and circumstance. I’m very proud of this group of students and commend them for their patience, listening skills, hard work and dedication to their craft. Their goal from this point forward is to go out in their regions and teach this course within their communities.
GMR would like to thank Jorge and Yolanda Mendoza for once again sponsoring this course and taking care of our needs in Cotui. We could not have done this without you!
UPCOMING PROJECTS, 2017: