The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program, which trains volunteers in disaster preparedness and response, is a gift to our community.
Whether it is a wildfire, a chemical spill from a tanker or a terrorist attack, a large-scale disaster will require more action than our public safety agencies can provide. Trained volunteers can make the difference in the life or death of someone in distress.
So far, the CERT program has educated 50 residents in what to do and what not to do in a disaster. Imagine if 500 residents were trained and available to respond in a major emergency.
CERT training requires a commitment of one night a week for eight weeks and is absolutely free to anyone willing to devote the time. Classes are held at the fire station on Main Street in Payson.
As CERT Assistant Director Roger Kreimeyer said, no matter what your physical ability, in some capacity you can assist during a disaster. Kreimeyer referred to an elderly woman who was a CERT volunteer -- while she could not lift a piece of debris off a trapped victim, she could cook a mean casserole and feed the troops.
CERT training doesn't focus solely on major disaster response, but also accident prevention and general preparedness for any adverse situation we could face as residents of Rim country.
We barely escaped the ravages of the Willow Fire. Next time we may not be so lucky, and then we will realize how critical CERT volunteers are.
For more information on becoming a CERT volunteer, call (928) 468-0984. The public is encouraged to come to the CERT drill and information booth at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 31 at Rumsey Park.