TYRONZA, Ark. (AP) - The arrival of severe weather season means
a high risk of damage associated with tornadoes, high winds and
Tyronza volunteer firefighter Jerry Collier stands ready to
battle the elements. As coordinator of Poinsett County's Citizen
Corps, he devotes a sizable chunk of time to training residents to
respond to natural disasters.
The corps was created by President George W. Bush as part of the
federal Department of Homeland Security with oversight from the
Federal Emergency Management Administration.
"The tornadoes last May in the county led me to do something to
get better training and help other people do it too," said
Collier, who works as safety director and recruiter for Loggins
Logistics in Jonesboro.
"I talked with Mayor (Marion) Bearden about getting the funding
together for training, then to Merle Williams (director of the
Poinsett County Office of Emergency Management). They both gave me
the green light."
To implement the training - known as Community Emergency
Response Team - the trio secured a $4,100 FEMA grant and another
$1,000 grant for Citizens Corps to carry out the 20-hour coursework
required to prepare participants for dealing with real situations.
Collier is a certified emergency medical technician and uses
that experience throughout the training process.
"We delve into things like fire suppression, search and rescue,
communications and disaster psychology, which deals with the mental
side of trauma," Collier said. "That's the most difficult part of
it because of people's emotions. The human side is always there."
For his part, Williams said the support of everyday people like
Collier is critical to rural areas, if for no other reason than to
have able bodies close by to handle immediate needs stemming from
"Jerry has done a stellar job in training his folks to spring
into action at a moment's notice. That means a lot to Poinsett
County because we have a number of smaller communities and outlying
areas," Williams said.
The program claims 15 graduates and will begin a new class early
next month. Sessions are held at the Tyronza Fire Department.
Collier said courses typically cover seven weeks at a clip.
Donations are always welcome, Collier said, and have included
fire extinguishers, pry bars, and a truck trailer housed next to
the fire department.
"We have a $4,500 grant for the program this year which will
help us cover supplies and preparation kits. Each graduate receives
a certificate which is paid for by the funding," Collier
Now that several tornado safe houses are located across the
county, Collier plans to speak to students and faculty about the
role of emergency response, whether it is provided by paid
personnel or volunteers.
Last year's class was split almost evenly among men and women,
old and young.
"If you're breathing we can use you," Collier said.
For more information about Citizen Corps and CERT training, call
800-524-4087, 870-243-2484 or 870-487-2144.
On the Net:
(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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03-17-2004, 03:12 AM #1
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03-17-2004, 09:33 AM #2
I was wondering if anyone had taken advantage of the President's Citizen Corps. This is the first that I've heard of one actually up and running. Effingham County (IL) is trying to take on a similar class at this time. Anyone else have any info about just such an agency?
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Help our fellow firefighters.
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03-17-2004, 09:51 AM #3
- Join Date
- May 2003
Sangamon County (IL) has had one class so far for the CERT, I think a second is in the works.
03-17-2004, 10:04 AM #4
- Join Date
- Mar 2000
- Dayton, OH
Various Departments around here (Dayton, OH) have been teaching classes for almost a year.
03-17-2004, 02:29 PM #5
- Join Date
- Jul 2002
03-17-2004, 04:14 PM #6
My department teaches CERT classes. Its basicly the new take on civil defense.I dont suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it.
03-18-2004, 01:49 AM #7
Nearby Prairieville FD in Ascension Parish has organised a couple of teams. I was particularly impressed by the amount of press coverage they were given by both local weekly papers. The FD conducted CERT classes once a week for several weeks and many photos were taken showing students doing tasks such as CPR, Fire Extinguisher training involving live fire, Team building exercises and more. Each week the photos were published in the papers along with writeups of the training being done. GREAT recruiting tool.
Participants received plastic safety hardhats, backpacks w/FD patch sewn on, gloves, cpr shields, Prairieville FD License Plate with the word C.E.R.T. on it and more.
While I am impressed with the work done by this department I can't help but feel that if the CD units I remember seeing as a kid had not been negelected or outright disbanded then much of this rebuilding would not be necessary. Many communities had active civil defence teams staffed with trained and committed citizens who were willing to serve. In the past 20 years these groups had funding and government support withdrawn until they became useless relics of the cold war. Now Civil Defence is back with a new name, CERT, and having to be completely reassembled. Talk about reinventing the wheel.
03-18-2004, 09:11 AM #8
CERT is well and is running.
Virginia has been doing CERT for several years. There is so much requests for CERT that the local departments and the state department of emergency management can not keep up with the request or training.
It will slow up after awhile but until then, it is going strong.
Stay Safe & Well out there.....
03-18-2004, 11:16 AM #9
Our first CERT team has just completed it's training. Not sure how it's going to work out. Alot of our FF's dont like the concept. They say that the CERT people will get in our way and be just another bunch of people we will have to worry about when th s*** hits the fan and the team is activated.
I'm trying to keep an open mind about it.
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