In my spare time I’m a volunteer with our local Community Emergency Response Team (Citizen Corps CERT information; Keller CERT site).  While CERT is sponsored by the local fire department, we formed the Keller CERT Association to organize ourselves as a separate entity.  In the last election I was elected to the post of Training Director.  A couple of years ago I took the CERT “Train the Trainer” class along with one of our other members and participated in teaching our last class, so it seemed like a natural fit.

This past week has been pretty busy, as we had our regular monthly meeting last Thursday, a team-wide disaster exercise on Saturday, and we started a new class last night.  Additionally, I attended a training session yesterday afternoon to learn how to use the fire department’s fancy new fire extinguisher trainer (just in time for our new class, which will be using this device in next week’s session).

Organizing a disaster turns out to be a fair amount of work.  You have to think up a scenario, find a location, recruit victims, make sure the team knows where to be and when to be there, prepare the location, and then prepare the victims (moulage, fake wounds, etc).  Once the exercise begins you have to monitor the progress of the teams and make sure that everyone stays safe.  Afterwards, there’s cleanup and teardown, as well as the debriefing. 

Teaching classes is also fairly involved.  You can’t just read from the instructor manual and expect everyone to come back for the next class.  You have to know the material well enough to move through it smoothly, referring back to the book only for quick guidance.  In the case of last night’s class, I reviewed the material and correlated it to the Powerpoint slides, and came up with a time/sequence chart for the topics, so that we didn’t get too far off course.  I’m coming to the conclusion that proper time management is one of the keys to a good class presentation. 

At last night’s class I wasn’t the only instructor, but I was still up there for about two hours.  It takes a lot of concentration, and after the class I was pretty much wiped (these classes run until 9:30pm).

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