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Local CERT training class to start October 25

Disasters can strike at any time and in any form. It could be a car accident, it could be a house fire or it could be a neighbor choking. Nobody never knows when or if they could be put into an emergency situation. With that in mind, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has started CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) training.
The model for the program was created by the Los Angeles Fire Department to help the community prepare in case of an earthquake or a disaster in which emergency response time is slower than normal. Pennsylvania has adopted the CERT program and has started training sessions.
“We started with community leaders earlier this year,” said Cindy Whitby, CERT training coordinator. “During the next class that will be offered, we are offering it to the community.”
There are 40 openings available to the class that begins October 25 at the Bald Eagle United Methodist Church.
“We are going to teach lay people what to do in the event of a disaster,” said Whitby. “We will have Dan Boyles from the American Red Cross teach the people about how to prepare for a disaster. The Bald Eagle Volunteer Fire Company will teach a class on fire suppression and light search and rescue and Blair County Coroner Patty Ross will be instructing the medical portion of the training. We have great instructors who will provide a great learning tool to everyone who wants to get involved.”
The classes are meant to teach ordinary citizens the very basics of disaster training.
“We are not looking to teach people how to be firemen or be EMT’s,” said Whitby. “I believe that deep down people want to help people. Our goal is to teach people how to do that safely. The idea of CERT is to be sort of an extension of the emergency response teams.”
The classes are offered through the Southern Alleghenies EMS Council and are funded through a grant from the Department of Homeland Security.
“I can’t say enough about Rod Bonner, the EMS coordinator in Blair County,” said Whitby. “He accepted the money for the grant and has been very pro-active in acquiring funding.”
To take part in a CERT training class, age doesn’t matter according to Whitby.
“We have had senior citizens and handicapped people participate in the training,” said Whitby. “There is a lot of hands on training that could help out in the event of an emergency. People learn how to stop bleeding, check for shock and to immobilize a person. People learn to use a fire extinguisher. There are people who never knew how to use a fire extinguisher and have learned through the classes. The last thing you would want is to have a kitchen fire and not know how to work an extinguisher.”
Whitby is looking for a strong turnout when the CERT training starts.
“I am excited to be involved in this program,” said Whitby.
“I enjoy sharing the skills I have with others. By taking part in these classes, you will learn the basic skills that could help a loved one or neighbor in a time of need. How would you feel if you passed on the opportunity to learn how to save someone and passed on it.”
Sometimes all the medical training isn’t what someone needs in a time of crisis.
“Sometimes the best thing for an accident victim is a touch on the arm or a reassuring voice telling them that they are not alone,” said Whitby.
To enroll in the CERT training program, you can call Pastor Jay Jones at the Bald Eagle United Methodist Church or the Southern Alleghenies EMS Council at 696-3200.