The mood was tense Friday as screaming, seemingly bloody Santa Barbara City College students emerged from the ruins of an earthquake.
Soon-to-be Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) members reacted with a mix of precision and confusion, all hoping they would properly perform during the simulated drill that served as a culmination of a two-month training and the last step toward graduation.
Despite the stressful environment, which required using search and rescue training, fire suppression and medical triage, all 19 SBCC staff members completed the morning drill and received their CERT certificates a short time later.
The CERT class is the first to graduate from the college, which plans to send more of its employees through the eight classes to be prepared for any emergency scenario.
“It is stressful,” said Yolanda McGlinchey, emergency services manager with the City of Santa Barbara. “If they’re screaming, they’re still breathing. Some of them are going to be obnoxious. They’re supposed to work as a team.”
McGlinchey said Santa Barbara County as a whole could use more CERT-trained people, since there are just 4,000.
Rob Morales, SBCC director of administrative services and emergency response, and his fellow graduates wore green vests and hats with “CERT” clearly visible as they helped student patients out of a classroom to a tarp triage area.
The patients — college EMT students earning extra credit — complained of faux injuries. Morales confirmed that 17 patients were injured in the incident, and one was killed.
“We have four people standing around,” one of the student patients said. “I want a Band-Aid.”
Santa Barbara Fire Capt. Kevin Bryant, who was on hand with several other fire personnel, asked Morales a series of questions to learn more about the incident as the arriving agency.
“Have you notified any other agencies?” Bryant said. “We’re taking over now.”
At the conclusion of the drill, Bryant offered a few friendly critiques to help staff in future emergency scenarios, including how to better use personnel and interact with victims of trauma.
Although stressful at first, Morales said he thought the emergency event went well, considering it was their first-ever drill.
“It’s a great drill,” he said. “It was a great learning experience.”