ERT–WHO ARE THEY? —Judy Pennett (CB handle “Hey Jude”)

For those that are new to the desert, and even for those folks who have been coming for many years, I thought that this article would inform and/or remind everyone what this group is all about
The Emergency Response Team is back for the 2017/2018 season and has swung into action already, with their first meeting held on November 14th.  Although they only have under a dozen team members as of that date, more are reportedly on their way.

The Imperial Dam LTVA Emergency Response Team (ERT) attempts to monitor CB Channel 12, 24 hours a day and is very familiar with the area. They lead the emergency vehicles to your location at any time, day or night (approximately 7 minutes response time). Don’t have a CB radio? Check with your neighbors and ask if you can call on them to radio in an emergency for you. It is important to know your location, i.e. Quail Hill, Murphy Flats, etc. (see map or obtain one from the contact station where you registered, for location names that are used here in the desert.)

     Some members are here at the beginning of the season and stay until the end, but they arrive and depart at assorted times. This means there are times when they are not available and that’s why they encourage anyone who wants to assist, to join their group.   They rely on a large number of volunteers to make this service available.

This volunteer team acts only in the best interest of you LTVA (Long Term Visitors Area) folk at BLM lands here at Imperial Dam. As they see it, when they retire from the team and younger folk take up this service, it may be their turn needing assistance in a medical emergency.

Just so you know, this group of volunteers use their own equipment, vehicles, fuel, radios and most of all, their time, to provide this service, which no other BLM (Bureau of Land Management) locations have. Some have roof mounted emergency lighting on their vehicles, hand held CB radios or ones that are installed in their vehicle.  All carry flashlights, fire extinguishers and other emergency equipment in their vehicles and RV’s.

Many of the team members monitor their CB radios 24/7 in that they are alerted to an emergency any hour of the day or night.

To reiterate what they do (especially for any visitors here for the first time).

If you have an emergency:

Get on CB Channel 12 and say: “Emergency,Emergency, Emergency!”  If there’s no response, dial 911. When available, an (ERT) member will answer. They will need to know the nature of the emergency (i.e. heart attack, not breathing, fire etc.). Give your location and turn on as many lights as possible (i.e. interior, exterior lights, headlights, hazard lights, etc.) No CB? Does your vehicle or tow vehicle have alarms? Hit your remote panic button to set off the lights and alarm and get your neighbor to call in via their CB. An (ERT) member will call the Yuma Proving Grounds (YPG) Emergency Center and 911. Our Radio Coordinator will dispatch runners to S24 and other members to key intersections to assist escorting the emergency vehicles to your location.

If you do not have a CB radio but know of someone who does, or can see a CB aerial in the vicinity where you are parked, perhaps you could talk to that neighbor and ask them if you could call upon them to use their radio in the event of a medical emergency.

They have a volunteer secretary taking minutes of their meetings.

To capsulize the team procedure when they get an emergency call:

  • The radio coordinator is called and that person get details of the emergency i.e. location and perceived medical problem (if known)
  • YPG (Yuma Proving Ground) is immediately contacted by the radio coordinator

YPG dispatches emergency response vehicles, at the same time, an emergency vehicle from Rural/Metro in Yuma may be dispatched. These vehicles are in radio contact with each other. Transportation to Yuma Regional Medical Center (YRMC) is usually done by Rural/Metro Ambulance

Then a site coordinator is contacted by the radio coordinator who immediately goes to the location of the emergency.  This person lights up the site with all lights available on the RV and vehicle of the party being responded to.

The radio coordinator then calls the runners (relay persons) who are instructed to go to various locations within the LTVA as well as the entrance to Senator Wash Road, with 4-way flashers on, roof top flashing lights on; fluorescent jackets on, hats on (all to identify themselves as part of the team to the YPG emergency responders).

The reason for the relay persons is critical in that the YPG emergency vehicles may not be familiar with the desert (because many of the emergencies are in the middle of the night).  Our relay team must be able to navigate their way around these desert roads so as not to lead an emergency responder vehicle into a ravine.

Please be advised that you are not required to use the services of the Emergency Response Team.  That decision is yours and yours alone. Consider this team a back-up service, so to speak. “They are not the caregivers, but the support group to get the caregivers to the emergency destination”.

If 911 is your safety net and you feel that you are safer with that service, we urge you to call them.

If you call 911, it will work, but it could take longer for them to respond to the emergency without the ERT’s help. All 911 calls in this area go the CHP switchboard in El Centro, California. The CHP transfers the call to the Fire and Rescue Department, the Imperial County Sheriff’s Department (Winterhaven, California) and YPG is called, as they are the closest responders. Now, they have to locate you. YPG relies on the “ERT” team to expedite getting to your location. The “ERT” team won’t know about the emergency until they hear the sirens approaching.

Channel 12 should not be used, except by the (ERT), unless another emergency arises. At the conclusion of the emergency, the channel will be cleared by the (ERT) Radio Coordinator for normal use.

All emergency information is confidential. Because it is private information, the (ERT) will not discuss it – especially on the CB radio – so please don’t ask them about the emergency.

Meetings are held every Tuesday at 8:00 a.m. at the little trailer by the second washrooms (you will see three green picnic tables in front of the trailer). Coffee will be on (or bring your own) and often someone will be kind enough to bring cookies or something (but not always).  Feel free to join the meeting to hear first-hand what they are all about and answer any questions you may have.



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