KATY MAGAZINE NEWS
August 22, 2022
By Natalie Cook-Clark
Online registration is open for the free Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) offered by the Harris County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, as well as the Fire Department and Harris County Emergency ESD48. During the 4-week course, participants cover a variety of topics that can be used in community emergencies.
Photo credit: Harris County ESD48 Fire and EMS service
Community members can train in emergency preparedness
The Katy region had Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) since 2015 and it’s a great way for volunteers to learn and train in emergency preparedness and better understand the hazards that could impact their area.
“The information and skills learned benefit the individual, their family members, and their community,” says Mary Payne, Harris County ESD48 CERT Facilitator and Katy Area CERT Vice President. “For the community, this allows CERT members, in accordance with FEMA processes, to be organized and immediately responsive in their communities so that professional responders can easily take over once they arrive.”
The program was originally founded in Los Angeles in 1985 and later adopted by other fire departments across the country. FEMA then expanded the CERT materials to make them applicable to all hazards.
“First responders can be overwhelmed during a disaster and may not be readily available to travel to a community or in some cases may not be able to access some of our areas, such as during floods,” says Payne. . “Through pre-event planning, neighborhoods and worksites can work together and be ready when 911 professionals are delayed.”
CERT trains participants in any natural or man-made disasters that may impact the Katy community.
“These events can include hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, and projects that the CERT team is asked to participate in,” Payne explains.
Katy Area CERT Volunteers have offered their assistance and made a difference in the Katy community.
“Katy Area CERT responded to Hurricane Harvey,” says Payne. “Thanks to our skills, we were able to help HCESD48 with a staging area for evacuees. During the winter storm of 2021, CERT members turned off the water in various communities. You’d be surprised how many people don’t know how or where to turn off their water.
According to Payne, two local CERT volunteers assisted with the shooting incident in their community by controlling traffic and performing general first aid until 911 professionals arrived.
CERT volunteers also assist at community events such as food drives, the BP MS150 bike race, toy drives, smoke detector blitzes, and more.
Registration is open online
Registration is open on line for the next training session. The training lasts 4 weeks and meets every Tuesday and Thursday from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. The next training dates are September 6, 8, 13, 15, 20, 22, 27 with a final exercise on the 29th. The course is held at the Harris County ESD No. 48 Administration Building at 21201 Morton Road.
“Once CERT training is complete, many members continue to train in a variety of areas such as animal emergency response training and Red Cross disaster assistance teams,” says Payne.
Training includes fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, disaster medical operations, terrorism awareness, and more. The course ends with a disaster simulation exercise.
“Communities have always come together during a disaster, but many don’t know how or what to do to organize a disaster site where first responders can easily enter and get injured people to medical attention faster,” says Payne.
Learn more about free CERT training and register on line. The training is free and includes a manual and a starter backpack.
“By learning the basic skills to be prepared for what may happen and by doing pre-event planning in your community, neighborhoods and workplaces, individuals learn the skills and steps to be prepared as well as how to work together to reduce injuries, loss of life and property damage,” says Payne.
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