Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Family Emergency Preparing And Training

By Brian K. Newhouse, Director of Emergency Management, Hendry County, FL

With the recent occurrences of severe weather and tornadoes affecting our neighboring counties in the past week, the topic of this article is more important now than ever. There is a program right here in Hendry County that is a great way for you to get involved in your community, learn some new skills that may save a life, and make new friends while you are providing a much needed service to your community. 

The training is free and it is open to people of all ages, its call the Community Emergency Response Team or CERT for short. Here’s a great article written by Hendry County Emergency Management’s own EM Planner, Amy Howard, FPEM, about the program that she is very passionate about.

FEMA began promoting the nationwide Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) in 1994. Since then, teams have been established in hundreds of communities around the country, including Hendry County. CERT training promotes a partnering effort between emergency services and the people that they serve. The goal is for emergency personnel to train members of neighborhoods, community organizations or workplaces in basic response skills. The CERT members are then integrated into the emergency response capability for the area.

If a disastrous event overwhelms or delays the County’s professional response, CERT members can assist community members by applying basic life support response and organizational skills that they learned during training. These skills can help save and sustain lives following a disaster until help arrives. Team members maintain and refine their skills by participating in training exercises and other activities throughout the year. They can attend supplemental training opportunities offered by the sponsoring organization or other agencies to further their skills and expand their knowledge base. Finally, CERT members can volunteer for projects that improve Hendry County’s emergency preparedness.

Once the training is complete, team members will participate in a final exam and exercise or drill to put into practice the skills they learned. This training consists of twenty (20) classroom hours and can also be tailored to fit the community’s needs. CERT training will teach each participant to :

1. Describe the types of hazards most likely to affect their homes and communities.
2. Describe the function of CERT and their role in immediate response.
3. Take steps to prepare themselves for a disaster.
4. Identify and reduce potential fire hazards in their homes and workplaces.
5. Work as a team to solve different problems.
6. Apply techniques for basic first aid, conducting triage, performing a head to toe assessment, selecting and setting up treatment areas.
7. Identify planning and size-up requirements for search and rescue situations.
8. Use safe techniques for debris removal, victim rescue and describe ways to protect rescuers during the search and rescue effort.

The CERT program has been in place in Hendry County since 2006 and has provided training to many people over the years. Each CERT trainee that completes the training will receive a CERT KIT (containing tools to use as a CERT member), as well as a Certificate of Completion. The classes are free of charge and are taught by the County’s Emergency Management and response personnel.

If you have received this training in the past, and still want to participate, we need to hear from you to update your contact information. If you have never taken the training but would like to learn more about it, please contact Hendry County Emergency Management at 863-674-5400.

The Hendry County Emergency Management CERT Coordinator, Margaret England will be having an organizational meeting for those interested in continuing as or becoming a CERT member at the Hendry County EOC on February 4th, 2016 at 6:00 PM. The EOC is located at 4425 West State Road 80, about 6 miles west of LaBelle. It is located on the south side of SR80 about a mile past the old Berry Plant.

Here’s your Emergency Kit shopping list:

Things to do:

 Purchase and install smoke detectors, if needed.

Items to Purchase

 Extra batteries for flashlights, radios and smoke detectors
 Broom, mop and bucket
 1 bottle of shampoo
 1 box of latex gloves
 1 package of sanitary wipes and/or liquid sanitizer
 1 large tube of toothpaste
Shopping lists are just a guide. Please adjust to your family’s needs.

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