Brooks Institute Getting Friendly With Fire

Brooks Institute Visual Journalism faculty Greg Cooper has been communicating with the Ventura County Fire Department with hopes of setting up opportunities for students to get real-life experiences in the field of community photojournalism. In and around the county visual journalism students are asked to look for journalistically interesting material to photograph for class and before now, some of those connections with emergency responders has been hard to get.

In addition to setting up potential internships with the department where interns would photograph a ride-along and document the calls they respond to, students were given the opportunity to photograph CERT training programs.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, better known as FEMA funds local fire departments around the country to train civilians in organized emergency response practices. Community Emergency Response Team training is a program that aims to encourage civilian participants to respond to national disasters in an organized and efficient way in their local communities or workplaces. By taking an active role in protecting their neighbors, CERT members provide safety during and after an emergency in which professional emergency responders are not immediately available. The team members are actively trained to perform basic search and rescue, to provide immediate medical care, conduct fire safety and to organize and give emergency medical services.

The Ventura County Fire Department CERT training takes place at their Regional Training Center at the Camarillo Airport. After a prep-talk with the fire chief and other officials, the participants are told that their training would be a disaster zone imitating that of an earthquake.

The earthquake disaster zone simulation requires the responders to search and rescue actors who pretend to have varying injuries. In order to avoid potential actual injuries to the actors, the trainees would respond to more serious injuries on the corresponding dummies. Responders convene outside of the training facility after searching and rescuing the simulated victims. Other responders provide medical attention to the actors as a final step of the simulation process.

Courtney Verrill, Adrian Soria and Zachary Kelly accompanied Greg Cooper to photograph, network and gain experience, in hope of furthering their education. More great opportunities like these are on the calendar.

This is just one of the many opportunities to come through the new relationship Brooks Institute is establishing with the Ventura County Fire Department.

Click on the link to learn more about CERT training programs.