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Insight from WFPD: Be prepared with community emergency response team (CERT)

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In 95 percent of all emergencies, the victim or a bystander provides the first immediate assistance on the scene. Knowing what to do in an emergency can make a difference in the outcome of the event for you and your family. What you learn through Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training will provide you the knowledge base and tools necessary to build confidence in your abilities to have a positive impact on your community.

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What is CERT? CERT is a training program that prepares you to help yourself, your family, and your community in the event of a natural or manmade disaster. During an incident, emergency service personnel will not be able to reach everyone right away. In fact, during a major event you may need to be self sufficient for up to 48 hours. By becoming trained in CERT, you will have the skills to help emergency responders save lives and protect property. After completing training you may even elect to become a CERT team member assisting in the community.

As a member of an organized CERT team, you can respond to disasters, participate in drill and exercises, and receive additional training. CERT teams are known and trusted resources to emergency responders and their communities.

Under the direction of local emergency responders, CERT teams help provide critical support by giving immediate assistance to victims, provide damage assessment information, and organize other volunteers at a disaster site. Volunteers trained in CERT also offer a potential workforce for performing duties such as shelter support, crowd control and evacuation. The role of a CERT volunteer is to help others until trained emergency personnel arrive.

In addition to supporting emergency responders during a disaster, the CERT program builds strong working relationships between emergency responders and the people they serve. CERT teams also help the community year round by helping with community emergency plans, neighborhood exercises, preparedness outreach, fire safety education, and workplace safety.

CERT training takes about 20 hours to complete and provides critical skills in emergency preparedness and response. Participants learn how to indentify and anticipate hazards; reduce fire hazards in the home and workplace; extinguish small fires; assist emergency responders; conduct light search and rescue; set up medical treatment areas; apply basics medical techniques; help reduce survivor stress.

Who should take CERT training? People interested in taking an active role in hometown preparedness; neighborhood watch groups; community leaders; parents; communities of faith; Scouting and youth organization; students, teachers and administrators; members of clubs and civic organizations.

To find out more about CERT visit www.citizencorps.gov. If you are interested in learning about CERT on the local level or to receive training contact the FirstLink Volunteer Center 701-293-6462 or saral@myfirstlink.org. Questions may also be directed to Mike Reitan at the West Fargo Police Department 701-433-5500.

(Excerpts from Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) US Department of Homeland Security)

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