CERT training prepares citizens


DESOTO COUNTY -- Being prepared in the event of an emergency can save property and save lives. Several DeSoto County residents took preparedness to heart and have joined a Community Emergency Response Team.

The team, dubbed "CERT" for short, is made up of citizens of all ages and backgrounds. Team members attend meetings with local firefighters and EMS personnel and learn the basics of preparedness.

"Something like this is important for everyone," said Vera Reeve of the American Red Cross, who joined CERT. "We need more people to get involved throughout the community."

The training session was held Wednesday at DeSoto County Fire Station 1 and was taught by Capt. Glenn Prescott. The focus? Fire extinguishers and fire safety.

"There are several rules to follow when fighting a fire," Prescott told the CERT members. "Always fight with a buddy and never turn your back on the flames."

Prescott added that when fleeing a room with a fire, try to remember to close the door behind you.

"This keeps the fire from feeding on more oxygen and slows its ability to spread," Prescott explained.

The CERT training program is organized in conjunction with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Emergency Management Institute and the National Fire Academy.

The primary reason for CERT training is to give people the decision-making and physical skills to offer immediate assistance to family members, neighbors and associates. While people will respond to others in need without the training, the goal of the CERT program is to help them do so effectively and efficiently without placing themselves in unnecessary danger.

CERT training is no stranger to Florida. According to the FEMA Web site, the Edgewater CERT helped emergency management and the fire department by assisting with evacuations, handling donations, preparing food for firefighters and answering the phone while the professionals were fighting the fire.

CERT members and the sponsor work together to maintain team skills. Sponsors conduct refresher classes and an annual exercise where all CERT members are invited to participate.

Besides training CERT members, it is also important to train members of response agencies about CERTs, the skills teams have and the role that they will have during a major disaster.

The DeSoto County CERT is still looking for interested members. Anyone interested in Emergency Training is asked to call the County Fire Department at 993-4842.

You can reach Steve Blanchard at sblanchard@sun-herald.com


By STEVE BLANCHARD

DeSoto News Editor