South Pasadena Fire officials trained 38 members of the faculty from local schools. Photos by Steve Whitmore

South Pasadena’s Fire Department successfully trained 38 members of the faculty from local schools this past week in emergency preparedness.

Fire Chief Paul Riddle, City Manager Stephanie DeWolfe and School Superintendent Geoff Yantz presented the graduates their certificates and a backpack stuffed with emergency supplies such as flashlights, first-aid kits, blankets and other sundry items that a person might need in an emergency. The ceremony, held at the South Pasadena fire station, was greeted with enthusiasm and gratitude, especially toward the CERT coordinator Anthony Corrao.

From left, South Pasadena Councilman Robert S. Joe shows the CERT certificate and backpack given to High School Principal Janet Anderson, who successfully completed the week-long training.

“This is so important for people to be able to take care of themselves and others for at least 72 hours when they might be on their own,” Corrao said after the ceremony was over.

DeWolfe echoed those comments, saying it’s vital to have the CERT training. “It’s another example of our community working together to make us a better place,” she said.

Meanwhile, Yantz said he was proud of the faculty that went through the training and it now offers another level of emergency response that’s always needed.

“This is very important for our schools,” Yantz said.

One of the faculty that went through the training, South Pasadena High School Principal Janet Anderson, agreed with what everybody as saying and added that it’s a good opportunity.

CERT Coordinator Anthony Corrao speaks to the graduating class last Thursday morning. Photos by Steve Whitmore

“It’s a good opportunity for our school leaders to be prepared in the event of an emergency and we are going to share what we learn with others back at school,” Anderson said.

The program, known at the Community Emergency Response Team or CERT, educates volunteers about disaster preparedness for the hazards that may impact their area and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations, according to the website www.ready.gov.

“The training is designed to better prepare our community to be able to respond to and recover from a disaster,” South Pasadena Fire Chief said during the training in an email to The Review. “This week’s training is a partnership with our School District and includes approximately 40 members of SPUSD Faculty. Again, this is an outstanding partnership with the School District.” That final tally was 38, according to Corrao.

From left, School Superintendent Geoff Yantz, Fire Chief Paul Riddle, City Manager Stephanie DeWolfe and Councilman Robert S. Joe ready themselves to hand out the certificates and backpacks during the graduation ceremony.

The local program started in 2014 and has trained more than 300 people, Riddle said. The training is over three days and is conducted at the fire station. The local training includes disaster preparation, disaster first aid, search and rescue, fire extinguisher, light cribbing, electrical safety and shelter/care, according to Riddle.

“This week’s training will also include discussion of steps that can be taken by faculty if a disaster occurred during school hours,” Riddle said.

The CERT program also offers a consistent, nationwide approach to volunteer training and organization that professional responders can rely on during disaster situations, which allows them to focus on more complex tasks. There are more than 2,700 local CERT programs nationwide, with more than 600,000 individuals trained since CERT became a national program, according to www.ready.org.

Fire Chief Paul Riddle displays the backpack each CERT graduate received during the ceremony.

City officials here have identified through the strategic planning process that disaster preparedness is a top priority, Riddle said. Along with CERT training, South Pasadena Fire officials are also remodeling and updating the city’s Emergency Operations Center and updating the city’s Local Hazard Mitigation Plan.

“Again, these collective efforts will place the city in a position to effectively prepare for, respond to, and recover from a disaster,” Riddle said.

Steve Whitmore
Author

Steve Whitmore is the editor for the South Pasadena Review. Steve has spent more than four decades as an award-winning print and broadcast journalist with a 16-year stint as the senior media advisor for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. Steve comes to us from the Keene Sentinel in Keene, New Hampshire, where he covered politics and was a columnist.

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