CERT training in Glendale

Glendale residents Reza Seraji and Ani Aharonian try their hand at putting out a fire with extinguishers during a CERT training program on Thursday, February 6, 2014. (Roger Wilson / Staff Photographer / February 7, 2014)

Southern California residents may have to fend for themselves when the next big temblor rattles the region and ties up public-safety resources.

But Glendale residents Ani Aharonian and her husband, Reza Seraji, aren’t waiting for the Big One to hit to get ready.

“We need to be prepared to survive on our own,” Aharonian said.

The couple attended their first disaster-preparedness lesson this week with the Glendale Fire Department. Their goal is to become certified members of the city’s Community Emergency Response Team.

To become a team member, Aharonian and Seraji must attend four to seven sessions, where they will learn how to respond and get organized during any disaster affecting their family, neighborhood or city.

The Los Angeles Fire Department created the citizen-preparedness program in 1985, two years before the Whittier Narrows earthquake, which resulted in eight deaths and costly destruction.

Soon after, the program’s concept spread nationwide when public safety officials realized they needed to train residents on how to help during major disasters, especially earthquakes in California.

“It’s not if, it’s when,” Glendale’s CERT coordinator Eric Indermill said about the next big quake.

The need for volunteers, he said, is great, especially since they perform 95% of all rescues.

Training volunteers on the basics of emergency response — including first-aid, fire suppression, search-and-rescue techniques and incident command — will increase their abilities in the case of a disaster, Indermill said.

In Glendale, Aharonian and Seraji were each given a green backpack with essential rescue gear, some of which included a helmet, flashlight, batteries, safety eyewear, a mask and lumber crayon.

While the couple was provided with the critical gear to safely navigate a disaster, they were also taught how to survive if help isn’t available for several days.

Indermill suggested maintaining a stockpile of water at home, work and in a vehicle. But if that isn’t possible, he said unconventional water sources from a water heater or toilet tank also work well.

The ability to make local phone calls will also be hampered during a disaster, so he suggested making a long-distance call to a loved one in another state to let them know about the situation.

CERT members, he said, should “have an ever-widening circle of impact” as they prepare for disasters.

If you are interested in CERT training, call Brandy Villanueva at the Glendale Fire Department at (818) 548-6404.

The following list includes dates for upcoming CERT classes, which are held from 5 to 10 p.m.

Feb. 13, 20, 27

April 3, 10, 17, 24

Sept. 3, 10, 17, 24

Oct. 22, 29

Nov. 5, 12

--

Follow Veronica Rocha on Google+ and on Twitter: @VeronicaRochaLA.

ALSO:

Be.group responds to lawsuit

Two men sought for alleged gunplay

Montrose Shopping Park Assn. considers changing fees