The student-led Canes Emergency Response Team (CERT) played out what it might be like to respond to an explosion Sunday morning at Dooley Memorial Building.
With Coral Gables Fire and Rescue, Miami-Dade Emergency Management and Miami-Dade’s Citizens Emergency Response Team helping out, CERT and advisors from the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) practiced the correct procedures to take if and when a boiling liquid expanding vapor explosion (BLEVE) takes place.
Sean Fay from the OEM explained the scenario: a propane-powered forklift had exploded and victims were injured inside and outside of Dooley, as well as in the adjacent parking lot, where a car accident occurred in the chaotic aftermath. The volunteers who acted as victims were given prosthetic wounds and were often covered in fake blood, lying on the ground acting hurt. Fay said there is a “shock factor” to responding to an emergency and the OEM tried to make it as realistic as possible to recreate that.
“The CERT team did a great job; they learned not only how to do emergency response, but also how to control the scene,” Fay said.
Controlling the scene meant staying organized and calm while performing a number of emergency response procedures such as using a fire extinguisher on a live fire, search and rescue, medical triage, medical transport or evacuation and emergency medical care. CERT responders are considered “force multipliers” for first responders, such as firefighters and paramedics, offering them extra hands, eyes and ears, according to Fay.
They ran through the scenario twice so they could review what they had done and improve upon their performance, according to Fay.
Assistant Vice President of Operations for CERT Denise Manfrini said that it is important they’re not just dealing with theoretical scenarios but are practicing hands-on emergency response.
“It was successful,” Manfrini said. “Everyone got a chance to practice a variety of skills.”
The CERT exercise occurs once a semester, although the group trains on a smaller scale throughout the semester. Fay said the OEM offers classes and training in a “non-threatening environment” to any interested student organizations.