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Winter 2005                                                      Volume 7   Number 1

The Connection newsletter is comprised of articles written by the people from around the Country who are involved in community preparedness on a daily basis.

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“Proof Is in the Pudding”
Florida Cert Makes a Difference in Four Hurricanes

Tom Weaver, Fl. Div. of Emergency Management, CERT State Coordinator, Florida  

The 2004 hurricane season made September, designated nationally as “Preparedness Month”, a real test for the Florida Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Program.  CERT started in Florida in 1993, with major expansion from 2002-2004 and 129 CERT Programs active during the summer of 2004.

These programs were well tested by Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne.  Four strong hurricanes hit Florida in a period of six weeks, causing over $20 Billion in damages.  They left 37,000 homes destroyed or uninhabitable with many more damaged, over 5 million residents without power for up to two weeks, over 370 official shelters opened and over 20 Million tons of debris.  The result caused the largest deployment of mass care assets ever, with approximately 2/3rds of all national civilian mass care agency assets (American Red Cross, The Salvation Army, South Baptist Kitchens, Adventist Kitchens and Church of Latter Day Saints assets) being deployed to Florida at some point.  Over 8M meals and snacks were served, 25 million pounds of ice and over 5 million gallons of water distributed in relief efforts....Continue to article


“Auntie Em, Auntie Em… It's Not a Twister, It’s a Hurricane…”
Frank Correggio, Public Information Officer, Boca Ratan, Florida

The month of September was busy.  Along with the normal routine of getting back to school, vacations being wrapped up and the everyday of work, work, we experienced Hurricane’s.  Not just one, mind you but there was a whole family out there.  First there was Charley.  He decided to be a football player and go wide around the left side and hit us there.  Then there was Frances....Continue to article


CERTs Help Out in Mount Laurel Flood
Richard C. Tremper, CERT Coordinator, Mount Laurel Township, New Jersey

On July 12 and 13, 2004, over 13.5 inches of rain fell over Burlington County in the span of several hours.  Numerous towns in this southern New Jersey county, were severely effected by what has been labeled a 1000 year storm. During the storm, over 12 dams in several communities failed causing a cascading flood surge, which left several towns with heavy flood damage. Mount Laurel Township was one of those communities, which suffered flood damage to many homes in two of its residential areas.  Over 500 residences in the township were affected by floodwaters, which suddenly rose and quickly covered streets and low-lying areas....Continue to article


Fire Communications System Failure…RACES Saves the Day!
Glorria Morrison, Emergency Services Coordinator, Huntington Beach, California 

The Huntington Beach Fire Department (HBFD) has a volunteer program called RACES, Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Services, who provide backup communications during disasters.  Three years ago the HBFD decided to train RACES to backup their 800 MHz system should it fail during an emergency or at any time.  It was one of the smartest things we ever did....Continue to article



Michigan Takes CERT to Haiti Schools
Cathy Muma, Director Student Life and Campus Safety and Security, Northwestern Michigan College, Michigan

Winds reach 150 miles an hour, uprooting trees and pulling at the foundation of homes.  The pounding rain is relentless as it turns canals and ditches into rushing torrents of water.  The weather finally clears, devastation is everywhere.  Many are injured, trapped, and killed.  Downed utility wires create additional hazards to navigate.  The nearest hospital is 45 minutes away, only accessible by foot on a rugged trail, and its resources are scarce.  No volunteer fire department, EMS or rescue department exists in the community.  No one has ever been trained to care for even the smallest injuries. 

This is a reality lived by over 8 million in the country of Haiti today. In the past Haitians only hope has been waiting for U.S. human and financial aid to pour into the country....Continue to article


CERT: Community Emergency Response Teams Focus on Safety
Tom Barnhizer, Lucus County EMA, Ohio

The CERT Program is run by the Toledo Police and Fire Departments, and administrated by Owens Community College. Funded by a grant from the Department of Homeland Security, the program trains ordinary people to handle emergencies in the event of a natural disaster or terrorist attack.

"We want our citizens in Lucas County better prepared," says Lt. Victor Ellis of the Special Operations Bureau of the Toledo Fire Department. "If we have a natural or manmade disaster that could overwhelm police and fire, we need to know that there's someone in the neighborhood who can help until we could get there. It's a preparedness issue for us."

Lt. Ellis, who heads the program, says that the course includes fire suppression, disaster psychology, life search and rescue, and basic lifesaving techniques, including what to do if a victim is bleeding, has a blocked airway, or is in shock. He says, "People are trained in areas they can help - and in areas in which they cannot help."...Continue to article


Teen SERT (School Emergency Response Training)
Haley Rich, Pueblo, Colorado

The Teen SERT program is an in-class, curriculum-based program that provides students with a knowledge base on the effects of natural and human-caused disasters and their emotional, social, and economic impacts. It builds decision-making and problem solving skills and strategies to help students make informed decisions regarding readiness, response & recovery and mitigation efforts to reduce loss of life and property.

Teen SERT is a model for other schools around the nation. Pueblo West High School was the pilot school (in November 2003) for the nation and now it is a required section of the six Health Classes with 180 students completing it each semester. The popularity of Teen SERT has also grown into an advanced Teen SERT course that will be piloted next semester to students who want more information and education about the first response field....Continue to article


Ellis and Liberty Islands' Graduate CERT Team
Joseph Geleta
, New Jersey State Citizens Corp Council, New Jersey

The New Jersey State Police Office of Emergency Management in conjunction with FEMA Region II and the New York City Office of Emergency Management, coordinated CERT training for employees of Ellis and Liberty Island.  The program was sponsored by the National Park Service and the US Park Police and attracted 35 employees that represented the islands and the Circle Line ferry boat.  The CERT training took place on March 23, March 30 and April 6th. On the last day of training the team had to complete a disaster simulation exercise that consisted of fire suppression, search and rescue, medical operations and cribbing.  All successfully completed the training and a formal graduation was held.  The CERT team will be prepared in time for the reopening of the Statue of Liberty for tourists this summer....Continue to article

New Jersey State Employees Complete CERT Training
Joseph Geleta
, New Jersey State Citizens Corp Council, New Jersey

Thanks to the support of Governor James E. McGreevey, New Jersey State employees were given the opportunity to take CERT training during state time.  The response to this initiative was tremendous with over 500 State employees enrolling in the 1st phase of training.  The following State agencies participated in this 1st phase of training; Department of Personnel, Department of Corrections, Department of Environmental Protection, Department of Education, Department of Agriculture, Office of Information Technology, State Commission of Investigations, Department of Banking and Insurance, Board of Public Utilities, New Jersey Schools Construction Corporation, and the Governor’s Office....Continue to article 

New Jersey CERT Volunteers Head to Florida
Joseph Geleta, New Jersey State Citizens Corp Council, New Jersey

The State of Florida asked for volunteers to assist in the aftermath of the number of hurricanes that devastated their state.  FEMA requested volunteers through their State Points of Contact and the State of New Jersey was proud to send 122 people to assist as community relations officers in the State of Florida....Continue to article 


The Ten CERTmandments
Earle Hartling, CERT Training and Education Manager, Culver City, California

When I took over as the civilian training manager for our local CERT in Culver City, CA, I tried to find a way to convey the “feel” of emergency response to both new students and past graduates.  What resulted was what I call “The Ten CERTmandments” (my apologies to both believers and non-believers). They do not contain any real “technical” details regarding the CERT skills to be learned, but rather they are more “philosophical” ways of approaching all of the different aspects of emergency response.  They help students remember how they should deal any emergency situation, so that they can be as safe and effective as possible in performing their rescue duties.  But they are more than just means to an end; they should be considered as inviolate as the original Commandments and they must be strictly adhered to during any kind of emergency....Continue to article


Wentzville Graduates 4th CERT Class
Mark J. Rosenblum, Wentzville, Missouri

With the fourth class of volunteer citizens graduating on August 21, the Wentzville CERT program is 48 members strong and growing.  Wentzville’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program is a 20 hour disaster preparedness course designed for individuals, business and community organizations in Wentzville and surrounding areas.  Spearheaded by Emergency Management Director Phillip Yocum, this program is the Nationally Accepted Federal Standard for community response team training. To understand and get the first-hand knowledge of what tasks a CERT member may have to perform, Mayor Paul Lambi went through the exercises along with the CERT graduates....Continue to article


CERT Program Launched in Statesville, North Carolina
Mauro Messina, Deputy Coordinator, Iredell County Office of Emergency Management, Statesville, North Carolina

Approaching a badly damaged home, CERT members shout through a doorway in an attempt to determine if anyone might be trapped inside.  A citizen is found lying outside the building and a member breaks off from the group to begin assessing injuries.  Meanwhile, a fire erupts and a team member moves quickly to extinguish it with a small fire extinguisher.

All in a day’s work?  It was for this group.  These were just a few of the challenges facing members of Iredell County’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) on a bright, spring morning.  The group of volunteers, representing the first class of its kind in Iredell County, was participating in a disaster exercise designed to test all they had learned in a 7-week disaster preparedness program....Continue to article


PNC First University in State to Complete CERT Training
Carol Connelly, Director of Media & Communication Services, Purdue University North Central, Indiana

Fourteen Purdue University North Central faculty and staff members completed Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training, making PNC the first Indiana campus to have a certified CERT team.

The CERT team members will be able to aid the PNC police and other rescue workers should a disaster or emergency strike the campus and can assist with basic first aid, light search and rescue, small fire suppression and disaster scene organization. While they will not be used in place of the police, they will be able to provide critical support to emergency personnel and give immediate assistance to victims before help arrives....Continue to article


Community Emergency Response Teams
Chief Carl Amato Jr., NYSAFC Past President, Timber Pines, Florida

My experience in CERT is not long, but as I have become more involved, I gathered much information on CERT programs through reading, web sites, training, and preparing to become a team leader. I had a job to keep my team interested in our program, and also to try and get new members to volunteer from our community. Protecting Timber Pines, our community located in Hernando County on the west coast of Florida, is a difficult deployment. Timber Pines (which we call Paradise) has more than 6,000 residents with over 3,000 homes and 34 trained CERT personnel. The old saying still applies, “Risk a lot to save a lot, risk a little to save a little.” The CERT theme is safety first, protect yourself and your family, and then, acting as a team, your neighbors and your community. Do the “greatest good for the great­est number of victims” should be kept in mind....Continue to article


CERT, Are We Doing It Right?
Dan Schneider, RN, NREMT-P, CERT Coordinator, Sioux Falls Fire Rescue, South Dakota

As a newcomer to the CERT arena, I wondered while reviewed the CERT program in Sioux Falls, SD, are we really doing it right?

I was appointed as CERT Coordinator of Sioux Falls Fire Rescue just two short months ago.  Since then, I have had the privilege of conducting one CERT drill, participated with CERT members in a city wide Hazmat drill and started a new CERT member class.  I have been educated with the fury of a tornado.  I, like many other emergency services personnel and the public, was oblivious to the many capabilities and multitude of roles that CERT provides...Continue to article


Response Team Helping Hands
Marianne Willenborg, Emergency Medical Services Coordinator, Shelby County EMA, Iowa

The Shelby County Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) has been busy this year helping our community and are a great asset to the emergency responders in Shelby County.               

1. Shelby County CERT members helped out with the Public Health Bio Terrorism Drill on August 3rd 2004. This was a test of Shelby County Bio terrorism plan for small pox and was a great success.  Shelby County CERT members were used to help guide the (actors of the drill) public through out the vaccination process, to help with traffic control and as door greeters. Public Health realized what a great help the CERT members were to the community. This fall when there was a shortage of flu vaccinations, Shelby County Public Health asked CERT members to assist with an actual mass vaccination clinic on October 20,2004, this was a great success also...Continue to article


Woodford County, KY Medical Reserve Corps/CERT
Sarah Cunliffe, Woodford County Health Department, Versailles, Kentucky

Woodford County, KY is home to approximately 23,000 residents. We are a rural community located in central Kentucky in the heart of bluegrass horse country. Woodford County, KY is in the second year of our MRC/CERT development. To date we are proud to have approximately 100 volunteers of individuals with medical and non-medical backgrounds. Team members have participated in up to 30 hours of trainings by local agencies including Versailles Fire Department, Woodford County Emergency Management, Woodford County Health Department, Woodford County Emergency Medical Services, Woodford County Coroner and Bluegrass Community Hospital...Continue to article


Teamwork Counts; Anticipating the Best, Preparing for the Worst
DeAnn Konkel, KCEM, Sedgwick County Public Safety, Wichita, Kansas

On August 10-12, 2004, nineteen members of the Sedgwick County Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) were invited to the National Homeland Security Training Center at Camp Gruber Military Base.  Their local responders from Sedgwick County Emergency Management (SCEM) K-9 Search & Rescue Team, and teams from the Sedgwick County Fire Department Hazardous Materials (HazMat) Task Force and Heavy Rescue also joined in the three days of exercising and training at the 33,000-acre military base in Braggs, Oklahoma, southeast of Muskogee ...Continue to article


Do your have an idea for an article? Would you like to include an article from a program you are involved in? The next issue deadline is May 6, 2005
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