By David Hotle, The JOURNAL
Even those not interested in joining a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) are invited to attend a special meeting at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, June 28, in the Washington Public Library to learn what they can do in the event of an emergency.
Washington County Emergency Management Coordinator Marissa Reisen said the meeting will be informational and will include disaster preparedness for hazards that may strike the area. Topics include fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization and disaster medical operations. She said the topics cover both citizens helping themselves and citizens teaming together to help emergency responders.
?In the event of a massive disaster, emergency responders may not be able to help everyone,? Reisen said. ?They want citizens to be able to help themselves.?
There are over 2,700 local CERT programs nationwide, with more than 600,000 individuals trained since CERT became a national program.
While the goal is to create a CERT team in Washington County, the information presented will be available to everyone in Washington County. Reisen said once the team is established, there would probably be trainings with such things as traffic control. In many cases, area CERT teams have been used for traffic control.
?Even if they don?t want to become a member, it is great information to have on a personal level,? she said. ?This is also a great way to volunteer and become part of our community.?
She said CERT teams can find a way to use help from anyone no matter what limitations they have.
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.