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Bluffdale • The better the practice, the better people will respond when the Big One hits.
That's the approach brothers Jay and Kelly Bertoch have taken in developing more realistic settings for individuals training to be part of Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) that will be called upon to help neighborhoods cope in a disaster, such as a major earthquake along the Wasatch Front.
"We really feel strongly that people should get training," said Jay Bertoch, co-founder of the training program known as Brothers Grimm, Masters of Disaster. "It's not if, but when, we have a disaster. Training is the key, good training."
Not like the training Bertoch received when he first got into emergency response work.
"They turned off the lights and tipped over a few chairs. That's not what it's going to be like in a real disaster," he said. "The first time you see someone in a very traumatized position, it's tough. I've seen things people shouldn't have to see, but you're going to see it in any kind of disaster. If you're trained to deal to help with that kind of situation, that would be a great thing to do."
To help make trainings more realistic and valuable, the Brothers Grimm have developed intricate disaster scenarios. They apply makeup to their "victims," painting gross wounds on their faces or torsos. They use tarps to form rooms where victims are located and continually add new visual effects to make the scene more chaotic.
"A couple of years ago we wanted to get better at it, so we got more electronics into it, better smokers," Jay Bertoch said.
"It's similar to what you'd seen in a haunted house," said Cheryl Ivie, Salt Lake County's director of volunteer services, who was part of a sizable county contingent that participated in a multijurisdictional training exercise earlier this fall in Lehi. "Ours was simulating an earthquake, but they also do fires. What they do is amazing."
Besides setting up challenging disaster scenes, the Brothers Grimm emphasize hands-on training to help their CERT pupils check pulses and airways for blockages.
"We set up triage areas and let people practice," said Jay Bertoch, who was CERT operations coordinator in Bluffdale and, like his brother, is certified as an instructor by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
"Practice is the best way to learn. The pros train all the time for the muscle memory and to recognize hazards you don't want to get into," he added. "Rescuers often get themselves into positions where they shouldn't have been."
Up to now, Brothers Grimm productions have been free. The Bertochs feel it's their duty to help out as best they can. But they also hope that participants in their training exercises will be inspired to buy from them products that can be put to use in a disaster.
"Some day we would like to make some money out of this," said Jay Bertoch, who also is exploring the idea of continuing the work as a nonprofit.
Twitter: @sltribmikeg Disaster preparation
Across Utah there are 90 Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training programs, including 14 in Salt Lake County. Information for all 90 is available at http://1.usa.gov/iPET6R. Contacts in Salt Lake County are listed as:
Salt Lake City
Salt Lake Community College
South Salt Lake
Unified Fire Authority
West Valley City
Source: Citizen Corps