LISBON, Ohio (WKBN) – A community program dropped ten years ago is on its way back to Columbiana County to help people train for disaster response and search and rescue.
The county’s Emergency Management Agency is bringing back the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) and training for the program starts this weekend.
“It’s the basic training for CERT. In order to participate on a team, you have to complete the training,” said program manager Debra Moore. “We’re making it available in a three-day sprint so you can have access to all the training modules in one weekend.”
The training will take place Friday evening and all day Saturday and Sunday. The program will be split up into a number of different sessions:
- Disaster preparedness
- Disaster fire suppression
- Disaster medical operations
- Light search and rescue operations
- Disaster psychology and team organization
- Course review and disaster simulation
It’s designed to allow people in the public to help their community during a crisis.
“If you’re not affected yourself, we could be dispatched to help light search and rescue. We could just be looking for people who might be trapped,” said Don Kemp, a CERT trainer.
If you don’t think you’re qualified to save lives, that’s what this training is for.
“We’re not looking for any particular skills because we are going to teach the basic or fundamental skills that they would need to help themselves or their neighbors,” Kemp said.
Being certified means you will be able to help your family and neighbors in the event of a major disaster.
“CERT is a self-help, number one — yourself and your family — and number two is your neighborhood, your neighbors,” Kemp said.
On top of the training, participants will receive a backpack full of tools that could help them save lives.
“Ultimate mission would be to save lives, of course, but to do the most good for the highest number of people,” Moore said.
Receiving the certification, though, does not make a person a first responder.
“Again, we are a support to the first responders. We are not there to take their place,” Moore said.
There are multiple roles to fill during times of crisis, so everyone is encouraged to join.
“You don’t have to be able to rappel down a mountain to be a CERT member, you don’t have to do that. You don’t have to hike through the woods for days,” Moore said. “We like that type of stuff, however, there are plenty of roles for people whether you have a disability, whether you have any type of other issue, or even if you just don’t want to climb up a mountain.”
There is also insurance in place through the Ohio volunteer fund and the Good Samaritan Law in case you get hurt. It just requires a background check when you join and signing up to the volunteer network.
The CERT program is more than just search and rescue operations. In order to pay for it, managers have set up a local nonprofit 501(c)3 organization. Volunteers can take on administrative roles, helping to bring in money for the program.
For more information on how to get involved, call Columbiana County EMA at 330-424-9725. The EMA is sponsoring the program but the operating budget has not been met yet, so people can also contact them to donate.
You can also learn more about the program on the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s website.