What will happen if you have an emergency, but no one can respond right away? Often with a major disaster, help could be hours, days or weeks away. Would you like to be better prepared? 


Attend a free Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training class this weekend, Feb. 21-23 to learn how to handle a variety of scenarios from forest fires to distant tsunamis, medical disasters to extreme weather events, and even more ordinary events such as an elderly person falling in a grocery store. 


“CERT training teaches vital skills in how to handle all types of emergencies,” said Ruth Dixon, Curry County’s central CERT coordinator. 


Classes meet 5-8 p.m. on Friday, and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, with a lunch break from 12-1 p.m. The class is open to adults and youth ages 12 and older. You must attend all three days to receive certification. 


For youth, the CERT training is the first of three components of the My Youth Preparedness Initiative (MyPI), which helps teens build life-saving skills. Over the 5- to 10-week program, MyPI participants become certified in the use of Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and automated external defibrillator (AED) usage (for heart attacks). The MyPI program also covers developing emergency kits and family communication plans, using technology such as NOAA weather radios, social and smartphone apps, HAM radio and more. MyPI Oregon is part of the National MyPI program that has won awards from FEMA.

The CERT program educates members of the community about disaster preparedness for hazards that may impact their area and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations. You can learn how to size up a fire, use a fire extinguisher, identify hazardous materials and respond correctly. For search and rescue, you will learn how to properly search a building for survivors, methods to carry people, and survivor extrication including “cribbing” to safely remove debris to rescue survivors.


“The more community members who receive CERT training (or MyPI training for youth), the less apt we are to have widespread panic,” said Dixon, who is also an Oregon MyPI certified trainer. “In disasters or emergency situations, people feel compelled to help. The issue is that when volunteers don’t have the training or experience that a program like CERT provides, the situation becomes worse.”


Dixon described her experience with livestock evacuations during the Chetco Bar Fire. 


“We found that many people wanted to help by working with the animals, helping to transport and bringing in donations," Dixon said. "We were very lucky that we had no serious consequences to animals or humans due to the lack of experience. If people receive the training and know how to react, we will be able to increase our levels of care and look for better outcomes by helping those affected to have a plan in place. This is the same for people in an emergency situation.”


Using the training learned in the classroom and during exercises, CERT members can assist others in their neighborhood or workplace following an event when professional responders are not immediately available to help. CERT members also are encouraged to support emergency response agencies by taking a more active role in emergency preparedness projects in their community. CERT volunteers serve as a force multiplier for emergency crews, freeing up responders to address more complex operations when they have the assistance of certified community members.


“It is not a requirement that participants volunteer with CERT upon completion of the course,” said Jeremy Dumire, Curry County Emergency Manager. “The training is provided to benefit the individual, their family, their coworkers, their neighborhood, or so on. The intent of the CERT training certainly is to add to the volunteer capability here in Curry County, but more importantly, to enhance the overall disaster preparedness within our communities.


“Volunteers play a major role in any disaster response and recovery. Many hands make light work, and having multitudes of well-trained volunteers means that we are able to respond and recover in times of emergency.” 


RSVP if you plan to attend. For more information, contact Jeremy Dumire, Curry County Emergency Manager at 541-247-3208 or Ruth Dixon for information about CERT and MyPI at 541-247-6672.

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