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Emergency Preparedness Starts with YOU! by Marg Pollon

Public Safety Canada emphasizes we all have a responsibility when it comes to being prepared! Can the First Responders look after the needs of entire communities when a major event occurs? I think we all know the answer to that question! This is why we should take this advise seriously, as we never know when a disaster will strike!

You may have read some recent posts written by Heather Green and might be asking, who is this person who has a good handle on preparedness and planning? We first met Heather about six years ago when Bridges of Love had a booth set up at Calgary's Disaster Alley. She was interested in the CERT training and signed up for the next session. Heather is on the spectrum with a disability, but I have never met anyone more knowledgeable when it comes to looking after yourself and others when a catastrophic event takes place. She graduated from our basic emergency training and has been a great asset to us ever since! Each week she shares news articles of interest, donates emergency equipment and resources, and has invested in our ministry financially. She truly believes in our training and freely recommends it to others.

Heather continually seeks additional opportunities to gather more training and knowledge. In the past, she was a medic with the Canadian Forces Reserve. She also learned basic firearms use and explosives. In the late 70's she signed on for the Fire Science Program which covered theory for fire suppression and prevention codes and inspection. She also engaged in Auxilliary Fire Fighters training and Navy Firefighting. Heather also signed up for Process Operations at SAIT where she learned operations of petrochemical plants and basic power engineering graduating with excellence. This was only the beginning for her, however, as she continues to learn and put into practice the skills and training she receives.

I asked Heather why she was led to take the CERT training which is fairly basic compared with the courses she has taken in the past. This was her answer...

"I learned basic information in CERT that was not covered in other classes. For example; we discussed what to say to people devastated by a disaster, as often what we say can help or hinder the situation. The Psychology of Trauma module was practical and down-to-earth information that we not only listened to but practiced! Simple facts are often the most helpful when it comes to neighbours helping neighbours."

Heather understands that we are not professionals so it is essential to stay within the limits of CERT training. She advises interested parties who wish to learn more than what is offered in the CERT training to investigate other courses that expand what is taught in the CERT modules. CERT is a great introduction for anyone who wants to be better informed, and equipped, with some basic skills to help self, family, and community.

Heather strongly affirms that we cannot be complacent as her commitment and diligence saved her a hospital stay a few months ago when her senior's building had a fire. Fortunately, she had a respirator in her suite that saved her lungs from smoke exposure as she evaluated down the smoke-filled stairs from the fifth floor. Thank you for your continued support and keep up the great work, Heather Green!!

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