CERT ready for action, new members
The El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office of Emergency Services sponsors Community Emergency Response Teams in our county. CERT is a group of local residents who have volunteered many hours attending training to learn basic skills to save lives and protect property in the aftermath of a major disaster.
The El Dorado County CERT program was developed because of the need for a well-trained civilian emergency volunteer force. When a CERT member has met the needs of his/her immediate family, then he/she is available to assist the county by responding during disaster situations where the number and scope of incidents have overwhelmed the conventional emergency services.
Currently El Dorado County has approximately 80 CERT members who have been trained and equipped to provide assistance during an emergency. There are four CERT teams established in the county. These teams are located in Georgetown, Grizzly Flat, Pollock Pines and Rescue. Each of the teams has a captain and training officer who are responsible for team organization and ongoing training.
All CERT members go through an application process and background. Then each member must attend and graduate from a 20-hour CERT academy. The academy is offered at no cost to the CERT member. The basic academy instructs new members on disaster awareness, fire safety techniques, first aid, search and rescue techniques, team organization, terrorism awareness and disaster psychology. The final exam is a practical exercise where CERT members put to work the new techniques they have learned in a hands-on scenario.
In addition to the CERT academy, each year the Sheriff’s Office of Emergency Services sponsors an annual CERT training at the county fairgrounds. Typically the training includes classroom instruction from power and gas companies and structural awareness from county building inspectors. Local fire departments and the California Highway Patrol instruct on the proper use of fire fighting equipment and traffic control.
El Dorado County CERT teams have been instrumental during county disasters. One such disaster was the Angora fire in South Lake Tahoe. CERT members responded to the area and assisted by providing much needed traffic control. CERT members in Georgetown and Grizzly Flat routinely respond to traffic accidents and assist fire departments in traffic control so that the first responders can concentrate on providing emergency help to those in need. CERT members have also assisted Health Services at flu vaccination clinics and during the 2009 winter storm and assisted the Sheriff’s Office of Emergency Services in the county Emergency Operations Center. CERT members are not just around when an emergency occurs; they are also very active in community events such as parades, clean up days and National Night Out.
Sheriff John D’Agostini believes in a prepared and well-organized community and CERT members lead the way in this effort.
By encouraging preparedness efforts and hazard mitigation, the effects of a disaster can be minimized considerably. The benefits of this program are numerous. It will increase the county’s overall level of disaster readiness, provide emergency skills that people may use in day to day emergencies, enhance the bond between government and community, increase community spirit, and improve the quality of life for the people of El Dorado County.
If you or someone you know would be interested in finding out more information on the CERT program contact Deputy Matt Cathey at (530) 621-7660.