Earlier this month, the world recognized the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks by honoring the brave first responders.

Now, a national program is helping to train citizens how to respond to their local emergency situations before the first responders arrive on the scene.

The Community Emergency Response Team, or CERT, educates people about disaster preparedness for hazards that may impact their area. It trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations.

One way in which CERT members may help is by going door to door in their neighborhood to evacuate residents in an emergency situation.

In Oro Valley, CERT is a volunteer organization sponsored by the Oro Valley Police Department. Its members are dedicated to individual and community preparedness and have completed an intense 20-hour course certified by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

“After a disaster, the first people on the scene are usually citizens,” said CERT member Paula Abbott.

CERT trains citizens, who could be your neighbors, to immediately size up a situation.

“They need to understand the situation to protect their safety and the safety of those involved. They operate only within their training level,” said Scott Ingram, an Oro Valley resident who coordinates Oro Valley CERT.

This Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon, Oro Valley CERT will conduct an emergency preparedness drill at Casas Christian Church, 10801 N. La Cholla Blvd.

The training will challenge their ability to make the right decisions during a stressful environment. Participants, who have all passed the 20-hour training session, will find themselves in situations in which they will need to search, report to the first responding agency, develop a plan to address the situation, and perform the initial triage.

The drill will utilize first responders from local agencies as trainers.

The event will refresh and test the volunteers’ skills in conjunction with National Preparedness Month.

The next CERT class is scheduled for January.

For more information, contact Ingram at ovcert@comcast.net.



Ham radio operators should be aware they might overhear transmissions from this Saturday morning’s CERT drill at Casas Christian Church, 10801 N. La Cholla Blvd. CERT organizers have already notified area dispatchers about the transmissions.

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