CCSO Emergency Management section offers CERT training

LECANTO - Does the idea of teaming up with others to meet immediate lifesaving needs in the wake of a major disaster appeal to you?

If you answered “yes,” then as concerned citizens, you might want to consider enrolling in Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training offered by the Sheriff’s Office Emergency Management Section.

The program is presented in cooperation with Citrus County’s Health Department and Fire Rescue, Nature Coast Emergency Medical Services, Progress Energy and the National Weather Service.

Looking at past disasters and catastrophic events, emergency management agencies across the nation were quick to recognize that immediately following major incidents, they simply wouldn’t have the resources or capabilities to meet the initial crush of demands for service. What’s more, past experience showed these agencies the critical need for prioritizing the use of their response resources.

Enter the Community Emergency Response Team concept. As far back as 1994, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Emergency Management Institute (EMI) adopted the model created by the Los Angeles City Fire Department and began promoting the nationwide use of CERT. This grassroots partnering effort teams up professional service providers with the very people they serve. More importantly, CERT empowers family members, neighbors, businesspeople – everyone in the entire community – with the means to care for themselves until more help arrives.

Here in Citrus County, CERT training begins at the Sheriff’s Office Emergency Operations Center on Saunders Way off of County Road 491 in Lecanto, and is offered free of charge to all county residents. Classes for the upcoming CERT training session will be held on Wednesdays and are scheduled for Feb. 10, 17 and 24, March 3, 10, 17, 24 and 31, and April 7.

Each session runs from 6 to 9 p.m., and targets such topics as disaster preparedness, fire safety, team organization, triage and treatment of life-threatening injuries, disaster psychology, CPR, light search and rescue, and more.

The fire safety session will be held at the Fire Training Center in Lecanto, while the CPR class will be held at the new Nature Coast EMS building on CR 490, also in Lecanto. All other classes will meet at the Sheriff’s Office Emergency Operations Center.

Because class size is limited, pre-registration is a must. CERT trainees must attend all nine evenings of instruction in order to receive their certificate of training.

For more information or to pre-register, call Bob Wesch at 249-2708.

Applications also may be found by visiting the official Sheriff’s Office Web site at www.sheriffcitrus.org. Click on “Emergency Management” at the top of the home page, then “CERT Volunteer Application.” Print and fill out the form, then mail it to Bob Wesch, Deputy Director of Emergency Management, CCSO Emergency Operations Center, 3549 Saunders Way, Lecanto, FL 34461. The deadline for accepting applications is Wednesday, Feb. 3.

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