By Sarah Plummer
Dozen of volunteers got hands-on experience conducting a basic search and rescue training exercise Saturday with National Park Service Chief Ranger Jeff West.
Beckley Director of Emergency Services Kevin Taylor said this exercise was a follow-up to Beckley’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) classes earlier in the week.
“This is really putting it into practice in a real world training. Jeff West led the team through a grid search and other types of searches at New River Park,” he said.
“It doesn’t matter if it is a small child or a senior with Alzheimer’s, the CERT team will be trained in looking for clues that tell search and rescuers what direction they might have gone,” he explained.
Taylor said the CERT team will be using different kinds of techniques in different types of terrain at the park. They will be locating the clues and learning how to properly report their findings.
Beckley’s CERT team is comprised of volunteers who are willing to give their time.
“It is open for everyone and anyone. Some possess expertise in first responding and others may not. We have a retired firefighter, a river guide and a homemaker. The beauty is that when you get a good blend of individuals who are concerned for the community and want to be involved, they are going to learn from one another and share with each other,” he explained.
Taylor added that a trained CERT team will provide support to first responders as needed.
He explained that during incidents like last summer’s power outage, the team could assist in a variety of ways, even by passing along communication and setting up a first aid station.
In addition to being on call in case of an emergency, the CERT team will be available to help first responders in non-emergency situations, like traffic control for events and educating others at fairs and festivals.
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