Richard Cooper, Emergency Management Agency director, said the free program helps train people to be better prepared to respond to emergency situations in their communities.
“It teaches basic firefighting, first aid, search and rescue and more,” Cooper said.
“The biggest part of it is they (citizens) learn how to take care of themselves and their family… plus being able to take care of their neighbors until public safety gets on the scene to help them out,” he added.
According to the CERT website (www.citizencorps.gov/cert/):
CERT volunteers learn to give critical support to first responders, provide immediate assistance to victims and organize spontaneous volunteers at a disaster site.
CERT members can also aid in non-emergency projects that help improve the safety of the community.
Cooper said training includes disaster preparedness, disaster fire suppression, basic disaster medical operations and light search and rescue operations.
The classes are fully funded by a federal grant through Gordon County’s Emergency Management Agency CERT program. However, many civic and industrial groups donate supplies and equipment, as a need is determined.
Shanda Gravitt serves as the local CERT coordinator. Cooper plans on helping grow the group of volunteers and members based in Gordon County.
“We hope to have at least 100 members,” Cooper said. “We have 50 members, currently, and it’s growing.”
Plans are to create CERT teams in every area of the city and county who will be available to serve their immediate neighborhood and be prepared to assist first responders when called upon, in the event of a natural or man-made disaster.
Residents interested in taking a free class on what to do during a disaster, sign up now and make plans to attend the first class on Saturday, Feb. 5 at 9 a.m.
The class will take place at the Gordon County fire station, 400 Belwood Road, and continue throughout the month of February.
For more information or to enroll in the class, call 706-766-0280 or 706-307-9089.