Karen Smith, Region 6 Coordinator for the Citizen Corps Community Emergency Response Team address the Price City Council at their Feb. 11 meeting. Smith is planning to conduct CERT training for all interested citizens in the two county Castle Valley area.
Emergency response training was brought to the forefront at the Feb. 11 Price City Council meeting as Karen Smith of the Citizen Corps program approached local officials concerning Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training.
Smith reported that the regional citizen core counselor had written a grant for CERT training that would cover all cities in the two county Castle Valley. While training times had not been set at the time of her presentation she did explain that the training was a 20 hour program that would conclude with a mock disaster to give participants some real world feel for surviving a disaster.
The CERT program educated people about disaster preparedness for hazards that may impact their area and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization and disaster medical operations.
"Using the training learned in the classroom and during exercises, CERT members can assist others in their neighborhood or workplace following an event when professional responder are not immediately available to help," said the program's website at www.citizencorps.gov. "CERT members also are encouraged to support emergency response agencies by taking a more active role in emergency preparedness projects in their community."
According to their site, after a major disaster, first responders who provide fire and medical services will not be able to meet the demand for these services. Factors such as number of victims, communication failures and road blockages can prevent officials from accessing emergency services and vehicles. People have come to expect these types of incidents following 9/11 and are learning to rely on one another for help in order to meet immediate lifesaving needs.
The Community Emergency Response Team 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. As a result, the LAFD created the Disaster Preparedness Division with the purpose of training citizens and government employees.
To start in an area, the site recommends that individual areas:
â¢Identify the program goals that CERT will meet and the resources available to conduct the program in the local area.
Smith commented during the council meeting that she had spoken with Price Fire Chief Paul Bedont and he was ready to assist her in any way necessary, up to and including setting up the mock disaster.
â¢Gain approval from appointed and elected officials to use CERT as a means to prepare citizens to care for themselves during a disaster. This is a step Smith is working toward with city and county governments.
Next, she plans to schedule and conduct the CERT sessions and maintain a refresher and exercise series that will keep the Castle Valley ready and able to help themselves in the event of a disaster.
For more information concerning the program visit the CERT website or contact Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org.