Emergency response experts say that factors such as the number of victims, communica-tion failures, and road blockages will prevent people from accessing emergency services that they have come to expect at a moment's notice by simply calling 911. Many victims will instead have to rely on each other for help in order to meet their immediate life saving and life sustaining needs.
“That’s why we are determined to prepare and train as many people in our county as we can in emergency preparedness,” said Richard Cooper, director of the Gordon County Emergency Management Agency. “Everyone needs to be ready and know what to do instantly in the event of a major disaster.”
The Los Angeles Fire Department has developed a class for citizens to help them help themselves in the event of a major disaster. Learning of its success, the Federal Government adopted the program.
Now funded by a grant from Homeland Security, local emergency response officials are hoping to better prepare citizens for disaster through CERT (Community Emergency Re-sponse Team) training.
“We are very proud to announce that our first group of volunteers from Wesley Chapel Methodist Church has completed the training,” Cooper said. “We look forward to working with more groups in the future, and pray that they never have to use what they learn.”
Members of the first Gordon County CERT class include Betty Stewart, Jaron Gilbert, Sharon Reeve, Robert W. Reeve, Donna Reeve, Sherri Luker, Randy Luker, Tyler Luker, Billy Galmon and Jan Galmon.
The free 20-hour course is designed to teach citizens how to care for themselves, their families, and neighbors in the event of a disaster. The course also readies members to aid their community when they are activated as a team. Classes cover disaster preparedness, disaster fire suppression, disaster medical operations, light search and rescue, disaster psychology, and team organization. The instructors are all experienced public safety per-sonnel, who volunteer their time to teach the potentially lifesaving information.
“This is followed by a course review and field exercise that allows participants to put into practice the skills they’ve learned,” Cooper added. “In addition to Homeland Security for it’s funding, we are also very appreciative to the folks of Gordon Hospital and the Gordon County Fire Department for all of their assistance with the program.”
Courtney Taylor, director of Gordon EMS, has taken on the training program as a much-needed community project, while Gordon EMS Paramedic Chanda Gravitt serves as the CERT coordinator. The hospital also provides bandaging and medical supplies for teaching purposes, Cooper explained.
Cooper thanked Gordon County Fire Chief David Hawkins for providing the training fa-cilities, equipment, and personnel to help with the training.
“Even if you have no interest in being part of the Community Emergency Response Team,” Gravitt said, the information is invaluable for teaching citizens what to do in the event of a major emergency.”
For more information about CERT and its parent organization, Citizen’s Corps Group, please contact Chanda Gravitt at 706-766-0280 or Angela Handley at 706-307-9089. More in-formation may also be found on the web at www.citizencorps.gov/cert/.