By Leah Banks —
On Feb. 24, The Peachtree City Police Department began holding the spring classes for the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT).
According to the CERT website, the team training is a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) program designed to prepare individuals to help themselves, their families, and their neighbors in the event of a disaster with a focus on the first 72 hours.
The training focuses on educating individuals on the hazards that they may face in their community and by training them in lifesaving skills they may need to use in the event of a catastrophic event.
The team may also give critical support to first responders in emergencies by providing immediate assistance to victims, managing utilities and small fires, organizing spontaneous volunteers, and collecting disaster intelligence.
According to the training website, CERT is about readiness, people helping people, rescuer safety, and doing the greatest good for the greatest number of people. CERT is a positive and realistic approach to emergency and disaster situations where citizens will be initially on their own and their actions can make a difference.
The program began in Peachtree City on Sept. 11, 2005, and has since been an impactful program for citizens to learn to not only protect and help themselves but to also be on a team that can help others.
Arline Cuebas is the Program Manager and Lead CERT Instructor and has dedicated her time to helping her community through outreach and proper technique in how to help others while maintaining individual safety.
“Our goal is to make sure that once our students go through the sessions, they are able to take care of themselves in a catastrophe for at least 72 hours. The focus is that ‘you have very little with you, so how would you respond? What would you do?” said Cuebas.
The program is an 11-week session with the first seven weeks focused on learning and the last four weeks dedicated to fieldwork and training in controlled environments. The lessons range from fire safety to search and rescue to proper first aid.
There are two sessions for adults. One session in the fall and the second in the summer. CERT also as a teen session in the summer around June.
“If you have people to want to help, and who are willing to go in, why not train them to do it safely and effectively? To me, what we are teaching is don’t panic. When something happens, you don’t have to freeze there. You can do for yourself You can take care of yourself and your family and prepare for the ‘What if’s,” said Cuebas.
The next CERT session begins in the fall on Sept. 8.