By David Hotle, The JOURNAL
The formation of a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) drew quite a bit of attention Thursday evening as approximately 30 people attended the organizational meeting at the Washington Public Library.
While Washington County Emergency Management Coordinator Marissa Reisen said she does not have a date in mind for a first official meeting of the program, she believes it is well underway to forming.
The CERT concept was developed and implemented by the Los Angeles City Fire Department in 1985. The Whittier Narrows earthquake in 1987 underscored the area-wide threat of a major disaster in California. Further, it confirmed the need for training civilians to meet their immediate needs. Since 1993, when this training was made available nationally by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), communities in 28 states and Puerto Rico have conducted CERT training. FEMA supports CERT by conducting or sponsoring Train-the-Trainer and Program Manager courses for members of the fire, medical and emergency management community.
Reisen said CERT trains volunteers in basic emergency services to act as support for emergency responders. CERT provides training and equipment for the volunteers. The training was open to the public, even if they didn?t choose to join the CERT team. She said the more people who knew the information the better.
Reisen was joined by Johnson County Emergengy Management coordinator Dave Wilson, who explained how the Johnson County CERT works. ?This is something we are trying to get started here,? Reisen said. ?Johnson County is trying to reinvigorate theirs and we are trying to collaborate because it is a good undertaking and we know if Johnson County gets hit with something, their CERT people might need help and it might be easy for us to go help them.?
During the meeting, supervisor Jack Seward asked about the volunteer group, saying that in Washington County there are seven cities spread a ways apart, all with a volunteer fire department and most with a volunteer emergency medical service. Reisen said the goal is not to take volunteers from any group, but to give information so that CERT members can assist if needed. She added that CERT training was to provide training for people to use if emergency services are unable to reach them.
People who were unable to attend the meeting, but who are interested in joining a CERT team can contact Reisen at 653-7794 or on the Washington County Emergency Management Facebook page.