Beginning January 9, the Homeland Preparedness Project will conduct an eight-week class in emergency response training at the Manvel EMS station on Masters Road. The program consists of 24 hours of initial training and is free to participants. A program certified by FEMA and gaining national importance known as CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) will present a myriad of topics on personal and family preparedness for natural disasters and potential acts of terrorism. According to the program flyer, “When you are trained, you are far better equipped to deal with your circumstance without needing aid from outside sources.”
The FEMA website describes the CERT program: “The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Program educates people about disaster preparedness for hazards that may impact their area and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations. Using the training learned in the classroom and during exercises, CERT members can assist others in their neighborhood or workplace following an event when professional responders are not immediately available to help. CERT members also are encouraged to support emergency response agencies by taking a more active role in emergency preparedness projects in their community.”
The website also explains the benefit to the community: “People who go through CERT training have a better understanding of the potential threats to their home, workplace and community and can take the right steps to lessen the effects of these hazards on themselves, their homes or workplace. If a disaster happens that overwhelms local response capability, CERT members can apply the training learned in the classroom and during exercises to give critical support to their family, loved ones, neighbors or associates in their immediate area until help arrives. When help does arrive, CERTs provide useful information to responders and support their efforts, as directed, at the disaster site. CERT members can also assist with non-emergency projects that improve the safety of the community. CERTs have been used to distribute and/or install smoke alarms, replace smoke alarm batteries in the home of elderly, distribute disaster education material, provide services at special events, such as parades, sporting events, concerts and more.”
A CERT program was attempted once before for Manvel citizens in 2012. Mayor Delores Martin said that past effort by Manvel EMS to start the citizen program was unsuccessful as it required a minimum number of people to commit to the ten-week training program. Only the mayor, city secretary, and the city’s fire marshal signed up. Martin claimed that the EMS would do it again if the minimum number of people would commit to the program.
Manvel city council member Lew Shuffler breathed new life into the effort last July when he suggested the city establish a local CERT program. He said then that Brazoria County has a CERT program, as does Pearland and Alvin. In promoting the new effort, Shuffler said the following: “As we all know, and as many of us have experienced, an event can occur that changes our way of life in an instant. Although we may not be able to prevent such events from happening, often times we can help reduce the impact if we know how to prepare and how to respond when they occur. In the initial minutes or hours of a disaster, before the professional first responders have time to arrive, a properly trained lay person can make a difference. CERT members can give critical support to first responders, provide immediate assistance to victims, and organize spontaneous volunteers at a disaster site. CERT members can also help with non-emergency projects that help improve the safety of the community.”
Admitting that he would not know where to begin to respond to a major disaster or how to safely and properly help himself or others in the community, he “believes our city will be stronger and safer if there is a team of properly trained citizens in place ready to respond in a professional and organized manner should it become necessary. I would like to invite those willing to “make a difference” to take the next step by joining my wife, Mary Anne, and me on Thursday evenings beginning January 9th through February 27th (6:30pm – 9:30pm) to participate in the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training. We need at least 15 people to sign up for training so your participation is vital!”
Training will be conducted by the Homeland Preparedness Project, which was formed in 2004 when various government agencies and local citizens expressed interest “in improving the level of preparedness in their communities. Recognizing a serious need, the founders of Homeland Preparedness Project came together to form a non-profit organization that could provide tools to create a safer community at no cost to the jurisdiction.”
Manvel’s Director of Emergency Medical Services (EMS), Dave Ferguson, is a strong proponent of the training and is making the training room at the EMS station available free of charge as a community service. The CERT basic course is composed of nine units taught by one or more instructors certified in the CERT curriculum. Each unit is taught by professional responders or other experts in the field addressed by the unit which provides continuity and helps ensure that the training is successful. According to FEMA, “CERT training teaches skills that people can use to safely help while waiting for responders. The alternate is to do nothing and that is not in our nature.”
The training will consist of eight three-hour sessions at the Manvel EMS station located at 6931 Masters Road (next to the Post Office) on Thursday nights beginning January 9. The program will run through February 27. The time of the sessions is 6:30 to 9:30 PM. Additional information on the CERT program can be found on the FEMA website (www.fema.gov) and the Homeland Preparedness Project (www.homelandprepraredness.org).