CERT uniform and tools (sparkless wrench for shutting of leaking gas)
If a zombie apocalypse should ever descend upon Amherst, our first responders could use all the help they can get. Or a volcanic eruption, tsunami, or mud slide ... none of which are likely to occur.
But the 2011 October Halloween storm stretched our public safety personnel to the breaking point. And for the 22 citizen volunteers taking the 7 week Community Emergency Response Team training course that started this evening, that storm is an all too recent reminder disaster can visit our bucolic little town.
Citizens from all walks of life, ages 13 to retired
The Springfield tornado of 2011 could just have easily decimated Amherst.
Springfield tornado June 1, 2011
After hearing everyone in the room introduce themselves, AFD Chief Tim Nelson responded, "Everyone here brings something to the dance. We will all learn together ... It will be cool." This group will be much needed additional eyes and ears for public safety, or what the Chief twice referred to as "force multipliers."
Chief Tim Nelson (left) course instructor Michael Williamson
FEMA put together the CERT program so everyday citizens can help themselves and their neighbors while waiting for the professional first responders to arrive, including light search and rescue, small fire suppression and basic medical care.
In response to a major event the group would come together at a prearranged staging area, after first making sure their own house and family are in order, to do damage assessment and inventory and assist those with injuries.
By the end of the 7 week program all participants will be certified in CPR and how to use an AED. But more importantly they will learn to think under pressure and put into practice basic skills that could save lives.
Because in the event of a major disaster, a little training goes a long way.
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All participants get a fully stocked "go bag," in this case a backpack