Tonight I dropped in on local CERT / CERF meeting. Several people from our church are now CERT-trained volunteers.
I've seen and worked with CERT members some over the last couple of years but I guess I didn't realize the training and expectations of them. I had the vision of them maybe doing some damage assessment, spreading information, passing out bottled water and ice. Maybe just a step beyond the Red Cross volunteer. But, at least from what I saw, they're really geared towards urban search and rescue. It was weird watching a team of volunteers from church practice "cribbing" (shoring up, then lifting, debris off of someone using scrap wood) and searching inside a hazardous building.
I shrugged my shoulders and joined in for a search and rescue exercise. I crawled around on the floor in a dark room, unsuccessfully trying to avoid potential electrical shock, and dragged out another volunteer. It's funny to me to hear that voice in my head saying "this would be too dangerous", given all the places I've been as a Red Cross volunteer. At least there we didn't go anywhere that the fire department hadn't cleared. CERT's a whole different niche in disaster relief.
Maybe I'll keep showing up for CERT / CERF training and play the spontaneous untrained volunteer. Or finally find the time to take the training. After I finish my ARRL AREC classes and FEMA stuff. Taking a 6-8 hour class every Saturday seemed a lot easier before kids.
When I got home I was thinking out loud, "I can't see myself going off an volunteering to do that." Ten seconds later, "but I sure could see myself doing that for a neighbor if we had a tornado." That's CERT in a nutshell, I think.