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Napa County CERT Annual Drill

Berryessa CERT attends the Napa County 2019 Annual CERT Drill.

Napa County CERT members, trainers and consultants gather for a group photo.

Napa County CERT held their 2019 Annual Drill on October 19th at the Cal Fire Training Grounds off of Silverado Trail in Napa from 8:00 AM to 12:30 PM.

Berryessa CERT members Joe Sponseller and Shelly van Rijn attended this year's event. Members from Napa City CERT and Amercian Canyon CERT along with some unaffiliated CERT volunteers rounded out the group.

Training this year was focused on learning skills to help evacuate people with disabilities, using Vine Transit buses with wheelchair access capabilities, working with Napa CART on the small animal component when evacuating residents and traversing an obstacle course with a victim on a stretcher.

Three stations were set up to focus on each component and the team members were split into two groups. Members from each of the three CERT teams - Napa, American Canyon and Berryessa - were split up to help our groups get to know each other and be more familiar with our members from each team.

Dr. Claudi Sonder, President of Napa CART

Dr. Claudia Sonder, President of Napa CART, spoke to the group at large about how to handle small pets in an evacuation situation. She spoke about safe handling practices, how to properly identify the animal for tracking purposes and how to safely put the small animal in a carrier for transport to their sheltering facility.

This has opened my eyes about how heavy powered wheelchairs are and the considerations we need to take to help someone in an emergency who relies on them. - Joe Sponseller, Berryessa CERT

The second training station was set up with different examples of wheelchairs and walkers. A member of the community who uses a wheelchair daily gave a presentation on how a powered wheelchair works and how we could assist someone in an emergency situation. Powered wheelchairs are extremely heavy and she walked us through how to operate them, how to turn them off so we could wheel them and how her wheelchair accessible van operates. Kent Barnes, CERT trainer and American Canyon firefighter, trained the teams on how to safely lift a person from a wheelchair if they need to be moved.

Vine Transit supplied a bus which was equipped with a wheelchair access ramp and a paratransit bus which has a special loading ramp and accommodation inside for additional wheelchairs. Members were trained on how each bus works and how we could use them to full advantage in an evacuation scenario.

The third training station was a group exercise on problem solving, teamwork and using the gear in our CERT go bags. We were told that we needed to transport a victim with ankle injuries through an obstacle course. We would have to work together to establish a command structure, delegate positions and use the gear in our bags to transport the victim. Luckily, both teams had flexible stretchers in their gear bags which were used to lash the victim (mannequin) to a ladder and move them safely through the obstacle course. Both teams worked together well and successfully completed the mission.

Team members at the end of the day were grateful for all of the new information and skills they learned about how to evacuate people with disabilities, pets and the new friendships with their fellow CERT teams.

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