Volunteers Needed To Aid In Disasters

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Roger Kreimeyer looks at the recent hurricane devastation in Florida and thinks of Payson.

Disaster can strike anywhere.

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CERT is comprised of volunteers trained in disaster preparedness and response.

"It could be a fire, a terrorist attack -- you just never know when you might need the help of citizens trained in disaster response," said Kreimeyer, assistant director of Payson's Community Emergency Response Team.

CERT teams, funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, were created across the country to assist in times of major disasters.

Payson's CERT program got off the ground last year and now has more than 50 trained volunteers.

Kreimeyer would like to see that number grow.

Kreimeyer, along with Gila County CERT coordinator Gary Lamken, are gearing up for a fourth training session and want anyone interested to sign up.

"The training starts on Sept. 7," said Lamken, a Payson Fire Department paramedic. "It's one night a week from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. for eight weeks and takes place in the fire station on Main Street."

The CERT training includes emergency preparation, minor fire suppression, basic medical triage and techniques of debris removal if someone is trapped.

Kreimeyer said CERT volunteers do not replace professionals -- they just provide support until trained help can come.

"We teach them what to do, but also what not to do," Kreimeyer said.

"After the earthquake in Mexico City, 800 people were killed while they were trying to assist."

Kreimeyer said CERT volunteers simply act as first responders and provide support for professionals who are spread thin during a major disaster.

Kreimeyer said the program is open to anyone interested and no prior training is required.

"The training is free, but we do ask you to buy some gear," Kreimeyer said.

The only obligation is that members may be called upon to assist in a major disaster.

"We did provide some assistance with roadblocks during the Willow Fire," Lamken said.

Kreimeyer said the CERT training is the perfect way for people to not only learn about disaster response, but also to prepare for a potential incident.

"We teach people about what kinds of supplies they should have on hand in case of a disaster, and general safety tips," Kreimeyer said. "Then, they can go out and educate their friends and neighbors."

The CERT team will perform drills and demonstrations for the public at 6 p.m., Tuesday, Aug. 31, in Rumsey Park. Anyone interested in signing up for CERT training will have an opportunity to ask questions.

For more information on how to be a CERT member, call (928) 468-0984.

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