The Metropolitan Area Sunni Society (M.A.S.S.) will hold the first of its two-part community emergency response workshops on April 29th. The Community Emergency Response Team (C.E.R.T.) workshops are sponsored by the Citizen Corps and Serve D.C., a volunteer initiative by the Mayor’s office.
The two day workshop offers training on how to deal with local hazards, respond to basic disasters and fire hazards as well as perform simple search and rescue operations. In addition, the workshop covers team organization, disaster medical operations, disaster psychology and terrorism.
Nain Baker, the organizer of the workshop, felt a great need to share the program with the Muslim community after completing the C.E.R.T certification himself.
“[These programs are important] because Allah says in the Quran that if you save one life it’s like you save all ofl humanity...It takes that part of the ayah and brings it to life,” said Baker.
Though many masjid leaders hadn’t heard of the program, Baker said once he pitched the idea of bringing the training into the masjid, it was welcomed with open arms.
“People were not aware of the program. They felt like what I felt when I first felt when I sat down and heard about the program. We as Muslims should be at the forefront of this,” he said.
The workshop, facilitated by Firefighter Abdul Majeed Calvert L. Potter is an effort to educate the community about the importance of being prepared in all situations. One of Baker’s goals is to encourage masajid to establish formal contingency plans for fires, power outages and to operate as shelters if a situation warrants it.
The workshop participants range in age and experience, from those who have never used a fire extinguisher to those who have formal military training.
“For someone who is new to [the basic training], it’s an exciting feeling for them,” said Baker. “The older people who we talk to feel like it’s important to them because many of them live on their own.”
Baker emphasised that while the C.E.R.T. workshops do not provide extensive training, they do provide skills that can help Muslims practice their faith in ways “other than putting our heads on the carpet.”
Currently the workshops are only being planned for D.C. masajid due to restrictions within the C.E.R.T program. However, Baker and M.A.S.S. have future plans to work with Maryland masajid on similar training programs.