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First-in-the-Nation Training: You Are the Help until Help Arrives

June 2017

Captain Joseph Fay, Nashua Police Department (Right), and Justin Kates, Director of Emergency Management Nashua Office of Emergency Management (Left) discuss the importance of citizens taking action before responders arrive.
Captain Joseph Fay, Nashua Police Department
(Right), and Justin Kates, Director of Emergency
Management Nashua Office of Emergency
Management (Left) discuss the importance of citizens
taking action before responders arrive.
At 2:00 a.m. on a February morning, Justin Kates—who serves as the City of Nashua’s Director of Emergency Management—found himself in the middle of an emergency situation when a SUV crashed straight into his house. The crash damaged the side of a bedroom, causing significant structural damage to his house and breaking a gas line. Justin, his wife Megan, and their dog Wyatt immediately evacuated while calling 9-1-1. Because of the damage to the gas line, the utility company temporarily shut off gas service in the neighborhood while the line was capped.

The City of Nashua has a very strong citizen preparedness and outreach program that conducts a range of public training, including Skywarn and CERT (Citizen Emergency Response Team). Volunteers active in those programs focus on larger scale disasters. But what about smaller, personal emergency situations?  After his startling experience in February, Kates and Emily Martuscello—an active CERT volunteer and FEMA’s Continuous Improvement Coordinator for New England—decided to pilot a new tool for those situations.

You Are the Help Until Help Arrives helps anyone who wants to be better prepared to help others in case of an emergency. Kates and Martuccello worked with the city’s Emergency Management team to offer the course to thirty-six participants in March, and another course is scheduled for the end of April. What exactly made them choose this program over other offerings? They explained: “It is the only course of its kind that cover[s] calling 911, bleeding control, positioning the injured, and providing comfort, so it was easy to pick. The length of the course is also perfect for getting citizens to the training. It complements our existing training programs and brings in more citizens to take other trainings like our Police Department’s Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events (CRASE).”

 
Karen Scott, Paramedic American Medical Response of Nashua, instructs citizens on how to use a commercial tourniquet.
Karen Scott, Paramedic American Medical Response of
Nashua, instructs citizens on how to use a commercial
tourniquet.
The program not only empowers citizens through teaching lifesaving skills, but it is also a first step and recruiting tool for potential new CERT members. Two classes were already conducted in March, with a turnout of 36 students, and April, with 27 student attendees. The next class will be held in May and will continue on a monthly basis due to such high demand. 

Want to learn more about Nashua’s successful pilot program? Visit http://nashuanh.gov/1114/8066/Until-Help-Arrives.