VCAD offers Community Emergency Response Team training

Friday, March 9, 2012

The Vernon County Ambulance District will conduct a series of Community Emergency Response Team classes, beginning the second week of April. The course will last for several weeks and is designed to make people more "self reliant," said VCAD director James McKenzie.

Students will learn information that is directly applicable to the kind of emergencies encountered in Vernon County. High winds and tornadic activity are the two biggest threats in this area and the course will teach students how to prepare for and react to such emergencies.

A CERT training course is not about emergency services, said McKenzie, "it's about taking care of family." Once a community member is sure that the family is safe, they can then apply their training and efforts to helping others in the community.

The training will take place one night a week and each session will be three to four hours long, according to McKenzie.

McKenzie said there will be several facets to the "down-the-list kind of training." It is an established program that will teach such things as the importance of securing items in and around the house. In a high wind situation "anything that moves, becomes a projectile," said McKenzie. The training will cover how to make and fill an emergency supply list, home preparedness, evacuation versus sheltering in place and more.

Also covered will be some hands on exercises in the use of emergency tools, basic first aid, fire safety and rudimentary search and rescue techniques. Students also will learn importance of and how to set up an Incident Management Command Post, plus information on how to shut off the water, electricity and gas to a building and how to identify dangerous wires.

McKenzie said that the course is "something we've been wanting to do for a long time." The culmination of the course will be a weekend "practical" drill. Scheduled to coincide with the end of a series of first responder course, the drill "will bring students from both courses together to react to and address the simulated conditions of an emergency situation; and finishing in May puts more trained people in the community during the highest-risk part of the year.

The course will not be physically demanding, according to McKenzie, and the training can be "tailored to fit the group," he said. After graduation from the basic class, students may have the opportunity to take additional courses and will be encouraged to meet on their own and branch out.

"Our goal is to get more people trained," said McKenzie, noting that he believes doing so will benefit the entire community; the more people in town that are self reliant and help themselves and their neighbors, the better. The CERT training is free and open to anyone who is at least 18 years old; but McKenzie added, "I encourage the young, the old, retirees, anyone" to take part. All classes will be held at the Vernon County ambulance barn at 515 E. Walnut St. in Nevada.

For more information or to sign up for the course, call (417) 667-5079.

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