Emergency training is the process of equipping laypersons with the knowledge and techniques necessary to respond to community disasters such as wildfires, hurricanes, or terrorist attacks. In the event of such disasters, these trained laypersons can safely perform minor emergency procedures such as extinguishing small fires, thus allowing emergency professionals to concentrate on more vital duties. The US government provides funding to fire departments and other professional emergency responders who wish to institute emergency training in their communities. These government-funded training courses utilize a set curriculum, which over several weeks explores disaster types, fire control, basic medical and search techniques, and disaster psychology.
The first step in emergency training is educating participants about the potential disaster threats faced by their communities. Should the community be in an area frequently threatened by tornadoes, for instance, participants would learn the characteristics of these storms and the nature of the damage they usually cause. Equipping participants with this kind of knowledge facilitates preparedness, allowing them to arrive on the scene of a disaster knowing what to expect and how best to react.
As fire commonly accompanies natural and man-made disasters, fire control is another important part of emergency training. Course participants learn to distinguish between different types of fires and to identify materials that might be hazardous if left in the presence of an open flame. In addition, they gain practice extinguishing small fires safely and effectively.
Instruction in medical techniques is also central to emergency training. Generally, community emergency response volunteers are taught only basic medical procedures such as unblocking airways and controlling bleeding. During an actual disaster, this training allows them to assess injured individuals quickly and to direct only those who need immediate or intensive treatment to emergency professionals.
Next, emergency training course participants learn about search and rescue procedures. This includes techniques such as entering a collapsed structure and uncovering buried victims. One of the primary emphases of these search procedures is maintaining the emergency volunteer’s own safety as much as possible so he can continue his rescue work.
Lastly, emergency training equips volunteers to address the psychological effects that might be experienced by both victims and volunteers during a disaster. This can include learning to identify signs of trauma in disaster victims. It can also incorporate aspects of team-building, which can help volunteers work together in the midst of a high-stress and sometimes frightening emergency situation.
After satisfactorily completing this class work, participants can opt to join their local community emergency response team (CERT). In the event of a natural disaster, a CERT may be called upon by professional emergency responders to provide extra support. If the professional emergency response team is delayed — in the case of flood-blocked streets, for instance — the CERT may work at the scene until the professionals arrive.