CERT coming to Canyon Lake

by Crystal Gottfried, Staff Writer

Comal County Emergency Management Coordinator Carol Edgett is looking for more volunteers to form a local Community Emergency Response Team at Canyon Lake.

A Community Emergency Response Team, or CERT, is an emergency preparedness program supported by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

FEMA began promoting the CERT concept in 1994 after the model plan was created by the Los Angeles Fire Department following a series of earthquakes in the United States and Mexico that left hundreds dead, injured and without emergency services. The LAPD realized that well-trained civilian emergency work force teams were important in disaster situations when conventional emergency services could be overwhelmed.

According to the FEMA website, a CERT is a group of people organized under the leadership of a local jurisdiction and receives special training that enhances their ability to recognize, respond to, and recover from a major emergency or disaster situation.

In addition, emergency responders train citizens and emergency management personnel in areas that will help them take care of themselves and others before, during and after a major emergency.

Sponsored by the Comal County Emergency Management Department, the Canyon Lake CERT members will receive 20 hours of training provided by the Bexar County Office of Emergency Management and the Bexar County Sheriff's Office.

CERT training is free and scheduled to take place at the CRRC Activity Building at 1941 FM 2673 in Sattler, on Friday, Feb. 24, from 6 to 9 p.m., and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on two Saturdays, Feb. 25 and March 4.

This type of training provides an excellent opportunity for citizens to play an important role to help safeguard, prepare for and respond to major emergencies and disasters in our community. Team members receive safety gear and a training manual of emergency procedures.

CERT members could assist others by applying the basic response and organizational skills they learned during training in case a disastrous event overwhelms or delays the community's professional response. Trained team skills can help save and sustain lives.

Graduates would be better prepared to respond to and cope with the aftermath of natural disasters. Neighborhood groups receiving CERT training become closer-knit and are able to help each other when disaster strikes.

Currently, the Canyon Lake CERT seeks team members who are at least 18 years old and who can take the classes provided in emergency preparedness, first aid, fire suppression and search and rescue procedures. Team members would commit to educating their families, friends and neighbors on emergency preparedness and what to do in the event of an emergency; to participate in volunteer opportunities that will make the community safer; and to maintain the skills learned during CERT training.

Applications can be obtained at the CRRC. For more information, contact Eleanor Preston at (830) 964-2324.

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