Orange Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Class Now Forming

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Sep 142013

File Photo: Asst Chief Anthony Cuozzo checks in with the CERT Volunteers at High Plains Community Center during last year's hurricane.

File Photo: Asst Chief Anthony Cuozzo checks in with the CERT Volunteers at High Plains Community Center during last year’s hurricane.

The Orange Community Emergency Response Team (CERT)  is forming an October 2013 Class, and we want YOU to become part of our team!

How can I do that you may ask?  It’s easy and we will tell you how, but first a few things about CERT in general and your Orange CERT.

The Community Emergency Response Team program educates people about disaster preparedness for hazards that may impact their area and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search & rescue, disaster medical operations, team organization and other areas.

CERT is a National program with thousands of local teams in many towns in every state across the U.S.  Orange CERT trained and certified its first team in June 2006.

Now relax, you are not expected to become ‘instant’ firefighters, paramedics or professional first responders that is not who we are.  CERT members do not replace the professionals.  CERT supports and works with them.

CERT members can assist others in their own neighborhood or workplace following an event when professional responders are not immediately available to help, as their resources are naturally overwhelmed.  Trained CERT members are there to provide assistance to those in need while awaiting the arrival of the responders and provide useful information and support to them when they do arrive.  CERT members also take an active role in emergency preparedness projects in their community.

If you are like most people, who, when something like a hurricane or disaster happens, and their first instinct is to help, no matter who it is, loved ones, neighbors, the community, then you know the reason the National CERT program was created.

The emergency authorities in California developed this program many years ago, after an earthquake, when they realized ‘regular’ people wanted to help.  Provide the people with basic training in some areas, which would allow them to help others in the process, and support the professional responders. The added benefit to this idea was that, now trained, people were less likely to become victims themselves while trying to help.

Orange CERT has earned the respect and support of the local Police and Fire Departments, who support our efforts.  You may have seen your CERT operating the Emergency Shelter at High Plains Community Center during Storm Irene or Hurricane Sandy, or assisting at the Town Fireworks and Orange Firemen’s Carnival.  Orange CERT also was called in to assist the many local, state and federal agencies in the search for a missing local teen.  Yes, we are a trained, active and dedicated team.

Anyone 18 years of age or older can join the team.  Our team consists of men and women from many areas such as police, fire, paramedic, electrician, scout leader, administrative backgrounds, moms, dads, grandparents, any and every background you can imagine.  Everyone is welcome to attend class and be part of the team.

Training classes consist of 8 – 10 sessions, 2-3 hours each,  on Wednesday nights each week.  Orange CERT has several members who themselves are Certified CERT Instructors.  There are no tests or exams to worry about.  Each student is not required to perform duties he or she may not feel comfortable doing or is unable to do, like heavy lifting for example, students learn by watching as well.

No one is expected to go beyond their own physical capabilities.  There are many administrative and other duties one can assist with on every team.  Some people obtain the training just for their own use and peace of mind, to have the knowledge and training to help their families, friends, and groups and that’s fine too.

One can never go wrong with having the benefit of this helpful training and information.  Upon completion, each person will be issued a backpack with CERT Equipment, Personal Protective items, and a CERT Team Uniform Shirt.

It’s also very important to feel secure in the knowledge that ALL CERT members, who assist in an official activation, be it for an emergency or non-emergency event, ARE covered by the Connecticut State Worker’s Compensation Insurance, should they in the rare event become ill or injured while on duty.

So, now that you know a little more about CERT and what Orange CERT is about, we hope you are interested in becoming a member of the October 2013 Class and join our team.  We are a respected and trained team, who also manage to have some fun in the process; yes we do fun things too!  Like train with rescue helicopters for example, but that’s another story for another time.

For more information on how to sign up for the Fall 2013 Class, send an email to: Allen Mushin at: K1qex@optimum.net or Anne Davis at:  Cookiemama059@aol.com, or visit our web site at: www.orange-cert.org.

We will be happy to answer any questions and to get you signed up for the class and on your way to becoming a fellow team member of Orange CERT.