The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Local News

November 5, 2012

Volunteer response team being formed

BECKLEY — A Community Emergency Response Team is being formed in Beckley, and training will begin today for those interested in joining.

Kevin Taylor, director of Emergency Services for the city of Beckley, is organizing the group in an effort to better prepare citizens for many types of emergency situations.

“There are many who wish to volunteer, who want to do good and help out, and we wanted to find a program to accomplish that,” Taylor said.

He said CERT programs have been in operation since the mid-1980s, but the program will be new to Beckley.

The classes will be from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Nov. 5, 9, 12 and 13 at Beckley Fire Department Fire Station 3 at 1102 N. Eisenhower Drive.

The classes will be given free of charge, and all four classes must be completed to satisfy training requirements.

Taylor said many individuals who wish to help out in emergency situations, but who are not trained, often do more harm than good.

“These classes will provide basic initial training. Participants will learn to work collectively together and would respond to both emergency and non-emergency situations only upon request.”

He said the training will not only help the individual to be better prepared, but will also help families, and the community as a whole.

“They can put that training into place even when they’re not called in to help,” Taylor said. “If we accomplish nothing more than that, we’ve done a good thing.”

The courses will cover topics such as disaster preparedness, fire safety, medical operations, rescue operations, team organization, and disaster simulation.

Taylor said these folks will be used in emergency situations when police, fire crews and emergency responders become overwhelmed, but they may also be asked to help during non-emergency situations, such as community events like Chili Night.

CERT members could provide a great service to the community, even with simple tasks such as delivering information to local residents if they have lost power, letting them know where shelters have been set up.

Taylor and other first responders will conduct the classes.

“Other emergency service agencies, the local fire department, they all believe in the effort and want to support it.”

Eventually, Taylor hopes a CERT program will be established in each ward in Beckley.

For more information about the program, contact Taylor at 304-256-0034 or ktaylor@beckley.org.

— E-mail: wholdren@register-herald.com

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