Week 1: Men accepted the challenge to take IN-CERT Disaster Preparedness Training in Houston

As you may remember, on last week I put out a challenge to men across the country via this blog, Facebook, Twitter and my email list. That challenge was for us all to sign up to take some form of disaster preparedness training in our cities.

Locally here in Houston the men step the challenge. The first two classes on March 9 and 11 were heavily attended by the brothers and it made the coordinators of IN-CERT very happy. Me too. Especially since I was not just challenging them, I was challenging myself.

During the first class, we got a kick-off presentation from IN-CERT founder Khallid Greene, and then a representative of the City of Houston's disaster management office spoke. He covered a power point presentation with 200 slides (exaggeration) about various types of disasters, the impact on infrastructures, potential hazards, hazard mitigation, and preparation at home, the workplace and community.

But out of all he said, there is one statistic that he said that stuck with me. The city has less than 15 people working in that dept so he told us "it’s impossible for us to service everyone's needs so who is going to help you?"...wow.

On Day 2 it was time for what we all consider some fun. Putting out fires! But before we got to that portion we had to sit through a PowerPoint by a rep. from the Houston Fire Dept. Luckily he only had 199 slides (more exaggeration). But he educated us on fire safety, fire hazards, fire chemistry, fire suppression safety and portable fire extinguishers. He shared with us how we should look for potential fire hazards in our homes such as all those chemicals we shove under the kitchen sink and running electrical cords under rugs.

He further shared with us that there are critical nine steps to perform when sizing up a situation as a disaster responder: Gather facts, assess and communicate damage, consider probabilities, assess your own situation, establish priorities, make decisions, develop plans of action, take action and evaluate progress. That seems like a lot to remember but what if you're trained to do? Becomes a little bit easier to execute, right?

Finally, the class closed out with us going outside the SHAPE Community Center building to put out small fires with a fire extinguisher using P.A.S.S. method. That is an acronym for Pull, Aim, Squeeze and Sweep. Aim at the base of the fire.

Everyone put out their fires successfully and no property was lost. (smile) I am looking forward to this week's classes.

(All photos by Jesse Muhammad)

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