This is not the official post of the week, but a tangent, because I have to tell you about my day! As I had mentioned in a previous post, my friend and co-pilot on this blog, Patricia Lezama, recently moved out of state, but today we got to see each other! At first, I was determined to rush through my chores. Then I felt determined to make a necklace for her. Yes, silly I know! I haven’t made anyone a necklace in two decades!?!?! Now I must suddenly do one now? Okay.
I delayed our meetup and made what I came to consider the “fire necklace.” One of my bead batches wasn’t very good. I had to hunt for good beads. This took me twice as long to make the necklace.
Finally meet up and had lunch! It was at least two hours later than I had originally planned. As we finished, I witnessed an older woman fall and roll. I said, “We need to go help this lady.” So we walked over and the lady couldn’t get up. A man stopped and got out of his car. We agreed that he should call an ambulance. The lady was very brave, despite being in pain. It quickly became clear that she had broken her hip. She did her best to be calm and cheerful for her granddaughter, who was about 10 or 11 years old.
The granddaughter also did a great job remaining calm and giving information when her grandmother couldn’t. The ambulance arrived quickly because the Fire department was only a few blocks away. We assisted the paramedics to get the lady on the stretcher.
As there was nothing left for us to do, it was time to leave, but I was happy. I felt like I was where I was meant to be. I almost always listen to my intuition, no matter how silly it sounds sometimes. Every single time I do, fate puts me where I’m needed most. I have advanced first aid training and right before the pandemic I received my certification to “Train the Trainers” (Program Coordinator) for Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). CERT is a group of volunteers from the community that learn what to do during wide scale emergencies like Earthquakes and other natural disasters. We come from different ethnic, religious, economic, political backgrounds, ages, skills and abilities in the service of community. We’re the active helpers. Our diversity makes us stronger! Together we can speak many languages and respect the traditions of those who have strict religious or cultural beliefs.
I’ll be honest, I’m kind of a control freak. I train and train and train so that I can make myself useful in almost any situation. I like to think of it as a way to leverage anxiety. When I know what to do and how to do it there’s no room for anxiety. We strangers came together in that moment. We created an atmosphere of calm support. It was not a situation anyone wanted to be in, but we made the best of it.
I know the pandemic is not over. It’s really the last thing any disaster preparedness geek wants to deal with. In my career I’ve written several Health & Safety, Disaster Preparedness, & Policy & Procedures manuals for large institutions. I can tell you that the section on “Pandemics” has been at best maybe two paragraphs, a page or two if you fill in with extra words. What was I supposed to write? “In the middle of a pandemic please avoid people like the plague?” It’s hard for people like me to see a need and have to step aside.
So, while I feel terrible that the lady’s outing with her granddaughter didn’t turn out the way they had hoped, I’m grateful I was there. I’m grateful that it was something familiar and that I could help. I’ve often felt useless since the start of the pandemic. Like a racehorse waiting for the gate to open. I won’t let the experience of it go to waste though. Next time I write or revise a disaster preparedness manual I’ll have a lot more to say on pandemics!
I would like to encourage everyone reading this to get basic first aid training. If not through a local program, then watch some YouTube videos, search term, “Basic First Aid.” When you know what to do it feels a lot less scary.
Finally, If you do find yourself in a situation where someone needs emergency aid and you don’t have any training, it’s okay. Empathy and support can go a long way. Ask them, “How can I help?” They can usually tell you, sometimes they can’t, that’s okay too. Keeping them conscious, talking and calm is a great way to help.
Stay safe friends!
The information below is directly from the FEMA website: Community Emergency Response Team | Ready.gov:
The CERT concept was developed and implemented by the Los Angeles City Fire Department in 1985. The Whittier Narrows earthquake in 1987 underscored the area-wide threat of a major disaster in California. Further, it confirmed the need for training civilians to meet their immediate needs.
CERT became a national program in 1993. There are now CERT programs in all 50 states, including many tribal nations and U.S. territories. Each is unique to its community and all are essential to building a Culture of Preparedness in the United States. There are over 2,700 local CERT programs nationwide and more than 600,000 people have trained since CERT became a national program.
I imagine there must be programs like this in other countries. Like the “White Hats” in Syria.
Does your country have a program like this? If so, What is it called?