In the event of a disaster, citizens often respond before firefighters, police and ambulances can. Well arranged and trained community members can respond effectively to reduce injuries, loss of life and property damage.
So local firefighters and a community disaster team will offer free emergency disaster training to the community for the next eight weeks.
The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) started training at Payson’s Main Street station, Monday, Sept. 29 and continues at 6 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 7, for the next seven weeks.
“The big thing with this is that in case of an emergency the police and firefighters are completely overtaxed, so in any neighborhood people will step up to the plate and volunteer to help. If they are not trained, they can be part of the problem and not the solution,” said CERT member and training coordinator John Swenson.
The training includes fire safety, medical operations, light search and rescue, disaster psychology and terrorism.
A catastrophic disaster includes any natural or manmade event such as wildfires, flooding or hazardous material spill.
It can take time for emergency personnel to arrive, so citizens may be on their own for up to three days, Swenson said.
“Individuals may not receive assistance from them for hours or even days. So individuals need to be trained,” Swenson said. “Experience has shown that where groups are trained and prepared, a 40 percent reduction in fatalities results.”
Never used by the town or for any disaster, CERT is ready and trained if a disaster strikes.
“Effective response requires comprehensive planning and coordination of all who will be involved including government, volunteer groups, private businesses, schools and community organizations,” Swenson said.
The last CERT training event in Payson was in 2004.
“We have been trying to get it going again for the last two years,” Swenson said.
Currently CERT has around 25 members and five instructors. More volunteers are needed and anyone can take the classes. Almost 30 people have signed up for the training during September, which is National Disaster Preparedness Month. For more information, call Swenson at (928) 472-3331.