Classroom Section of Chainsaw Training

Before we dive into the class and why and what we learned, let’s take a moment to recognize the trainer who came in to teach us the safe way to handle chainsaws on a disaster scene.

James George is not only a member of the Camden County, MO CERT, he is also a member of Team Rubicon.

Team Rubicon is a volunteer organization which “serves communities by mobilizing veterans to continue their service, leveraging their skills and experience to help people prepare, respond, and recover from disasters and humanitarian crises. Team Rubicon’s mission is providing relief to those affected by disaster, no matter when or where they strike. By pairing the skills and experiences of military veterans with first responders, medical professionals, and technology solutions, Team Rubicon aims to provide the greatest service and impact possible.” You can find out more about them on their website.

Members of this great organization not only do all of the aforementioned, they also partner with other disaster response and relief agencies to train them in the safe way to use chainsaws and other equipment while working in disaster zones.

The first thing which is abundantly clear is James’ commitment to being prepared and safe. He arrived early to set up all of the equipment he would be presenting and training the class on and was jovial and knowledgeable.

He took care to ensure he had the training manuals ready and even answered questions before class began, which, by the way, HE WROTE for the Camden County CERT! He told us the class was NOT just for the sawyers (people who operate the chainsaws). It is for the buddies/spotters who will be watching and acting as a safety officers and for the “swampers”, those who drag away the debris and logs as they are cut.

He began the class with identifying the MOST IMPORTANT thing you can have and wear before you even TOUCH the chainsaw: PPE or Personal Protective Equipment. “Nine pieces. The sawyer and his buddy/spotter MUST have your nine pieces of PPE in place before you begin operating.”

The nine pieces of PPE he spoke of included chaps, eye protection (goggles and face shield), helmet with ear defenders, gloves, proper footwear, “scrench”, whistle, and blood-stop kit. Further information on these pieces is provided at length in the training class.

James then spoke about the parts of the saw (all one million of them; just kidding!) and demonstrated how to take the bar and chain apart and reassemble them after cleaning. This was a perfect time to find out the chainsaws used by the CERT were not cleaned prior to storage. James stressed the importance of cleaning the chainsaws after each and every use so they are ready to go at a moment’s notice.

James discussed Cut-Plan Procedures and dangers specific to disaster zones, such as spring poles. Spring poles are “generally stout saplings that are bent double by a falling tree or branch.” If you have ever seen a Roadrunner and Wile E Coyote cartoon from the 80’s, you may get a chuckle out of this one, but the danger to volunteers and others working in disaster zones is VERY REAL.

James took the time to sketch out and explain the best way to deal with spring poles. Though we joked about his art skills, it was definitely helpful to see exactly where and how to cut spring poles to eliminate them.

His next demonstration taught us two ways to start a chainsaw. He told us “No using the COWBOY method” which is how 99% of people probably start chainsaws, by holding the saw in one hand, the starter rope in the other, and throwing or yanking them apart. No. None of us are cowboys here.

He showed us the first of the two methods which is the Ground Start.

Then he showed us the Three-Point start method.

After that, it was our turn! SAFETY FIRST!

And outside we went, to start some chainsaws! You can view videos on our Facebook page.

The second part of this training will be held on October 17th out in the field where chainsaw operations can be practiced in a safe setting. CC MO CERT Coordinator Tim George will conduct the hands-on training. More information on that is pending and will be emailed and shared on our site as it comes available.

Thank you so much to James for such an enlightening (and FUNNY) class! We enjoyed it and welcome him back whenever he would like to train us again!

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