CERT offers training to community
Kim West, Franklin County Times
Franklin County residents now have the opportunity to learn how to deal with disasters firsthand.
The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) is accepting applications for an orientation class to be held Monday, Sept. 24 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Ralph Bishop Recreation Center. The classes will take place every week on Monday, Thursday and Saturday until the graduation exercises and ceremony Oct. 13.
"This is the first class – we're very thrilled about this, because this a rural area and we need it here," said Dennis Sell, president of the Franklin County CERT Committee and a certified instructor.
"The class will be taught to take any catastrophic event and take care of themselves, families, neighbors and community until emergency responders can arrive to take over at the scene. The program will provide proper training, so people will know what to do or what not to do during an emergency."
An applicant must be 18 years old and have no felonies, but the class and all class materials are free. The class will have 12-15 participants that will be broken into subgroups, and each team will elect a leader.
"You should not miss any classes because this is so quick and intensive – participants need to attend every class," Sell said.
The training curriculum will include disaster preparedness, fire safety, disaster medical operations, assessment treatment and hygiene, light search and rescue, team organization, disaster psychology, terrorism and CERT.
CERT members can assist others in their neighborhood or workplace following an event when professional responders are not immediately available to help, and are encouraged to support emergency response agencies by taking a more active role in emergency preparedness projects in their community.
"The program is funded through a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant," Sell said.
There are four certified instructors available in Franklin County. In addition to Sell, three Russellville residents received their CERT certification in May, including Franklin County EMA Deputy Director Roy Gober, Rachel Boyd and Ronald Coats, a retired forestry manager.
"We are fortunate to have four people certified," said Sell, a retired journeyman machinist. "Surrounding counties don't have as many – Marion County only has two."
The CERT committee, which was founded in August 2006, includes Esta McKinney, vice-president and office manager for Sunshine Mills; Ron Phillips, secretary; and Tony James, treasurer. They meet on the third Monday of each month at 6:30 p.m. at the EMA office on Highway 187.
"Disaster does not leave a calling card," Sell said. "This program is severely needed, not only in Franklin County, but everywhere. We would like to see everyone in the county step up and get involved."
For more information, visit the CERT Web site at www.citizencorps.gov/CERT or contact Sell at 356-2552 or Ron Phillips at 331-9090.