Most of us would not know how to react in a disaster or terrorist attack. We rely on the knowledge of emergency personnel and officials.
But when a fire or flood hits, professional responders are not always immediately available to help — that is where community members step in.
Members of the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) are some of the first responders when disasters occur. From helping during the Wallow Fire near Whispering Pines to filling sandbags when Tonto Creek, near Punkin Center, flooded homes and stranded residents.
Starting on Saturday, the local CERT team is offering free disaster training. The program runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Senior Circle, 215 N. Beeline Highway. The three-class course continues on Feb. 4 and Feb. 11.
CERT member Roger Kreimeyer said the program teaches neighbors how to help neighbors in a disaster.
While not a requirement of the course, attendees can also join CERT and respond to local emergencies and disasters.
The Payson Fire Department and Federal Emergency Management Agency sponsor the program.
Sign up for Saturday’s class by calling Kreimeyer at (928) 468-1365 or John Swenson at (928) 472-3331.
The course will cover a myriad of topics including first aid, search and rescue, minor fire suppression, disaster psychology, the incident command system, triage and preparing for a disaster.
Attendees do not have to join CERT after the course is over, Kreimeyer said.
Locally, CERT has trained hundreds of residents. Currently, there are roughly 50 active CERT members.
Payson is one of the few communities in Gila County with a CERT team. Globe does not have a CERT group, he said.
The group is open to anyone 18 years and older.
“We teach people what not to do in a disaster, as well as what to do,” he said. “We teach people how to be safe and how to help others.