|
|
|
Dodge City Daily Globe - Dodge City, KS
  • Community Emergency Response Team formed in Ford County

  • A group of 12 Ford County residents, in partnership with local emergency management, will soon be assisting first responders in all kinds of disaster and crisis situations as members of the county's Community Emergency Response Team (CERT).
    • email print
      Comment
  • A group of 12 Ford County residents, in partnership with local emergency management, will soon be assisting first responders in all kinds of disaster and crisis situations as members of the county's Community Emergency Response Team (CERT).
    The CERT concept aims to train residents in necessary life-saving skills with an emphasis on decision-making skills, rescuer safety, and doing the greatest good for the greatest number. The course first presents the team with facts about what to expect following a major disaster in terms of immediate services, and then organizes the team to be an extension of first responder services offering immediate help to victims.
    According to Ford County Commissioner Chris Boys who spearheaded the group's formation in the county, the team will attend eight courses beginning with a broad concept and later focusing on specific scenarios. A few of the classes have already taken place.
    “The early courses focus on community preparation and the role and responsibility of the CERT,” Boys said.
    As the classes progress, each topic becomes more detailed. Boys said classes range from disasters involving hazardous materials to possible terrorist attacks, and everything in between.
    While Boys acknowledged that some of the scenarios are not likely to happen in Dodge, he also said it never hurts to be prepared.
    “The training is designed to help team members find a way to handle and respond to emergency situations where the community may be cut off from outside resources and restricted from utilities as well as communication,” Boys said.
    The CERT concept was developed and implemented by the Los Angeles City Fire Department (LAFD) in 1985, according to the national CERT website. Boys said the Washington D.C. based organization Citizen Corps, a group that emphasizes civic participation and community preparedness, also helped spread the notion of a CERT following the Sept. 11 terrorist attack in New York City.
    The basic function of the team is summed up in the following statement on the CERT website: "If we can predict that emergency services will not meet immediate needs following a major disaster, especially if there is no warning, and people will spontaneously volunteer, what can government do to prepare citizens for this eventuality?"
    Boys did not have an exact date for when the Ford County CERT will begin assisting first-responders, but said members are already equipped with backpacks of supplies needed for disaster assistance. The packs contain a hard hat, first aid equipment, gloves, a flashlight and a separate road hazard kit. Upon completion of the eight courses, the team will designate a team leader to act as a director in the case of an emergency. Participants in the course are from Dodge City, Ford and Bucklin as well as other towns in the county. Boys said both men and women are represented in the team.
    Page 2 of 2 - Boys said the idea for a local CERT arose through discussion with Ford County Emergency Manager Ed Elam who was certified as an emergency manager earlier this year. Elam's position is a commodity in the Dodge community, according to Boys who said his position is rare for small counties.
    The Department of Homeland Security is the major grantor for Emergency Management, part of which is passed on to the CERT program along with an in kind payment back for use of some facilities. The road hazard safety kits were financed by Boys and his insurance agency.
    In the past, funding for CERT's has come through grants from the Citizen Corps and FEMA, but according to Kansas Citizen Corps Project Manager Bob Stamey, the grants are no longer available. As a result, Stamey said most Kansas groups have come to rely on local funding through their county or donations. Boys said the Ford County program is looking for donations to keep the CERT program funded long term
    Currently, there are 37 CERT units registered in Kansas.
    For more information in joining the Ford County CERT or donating funds, contact Elam at (620) 227-4670 or by e-mail at eelam@fordcounty.net A website is also available at http://www.fordcounty.net/cert/cert.html.

        calendar