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Participants sought for fire department’s next CERT course

By Staff | Jan 5, 2011

The Cape Coral Fire Department is seeking participants for its first CERT basic training class of 2011.
CERT, or Community Emergency Response Team, training is designed to educate residents to prepare for and take care of themselves, their family and their neighbors when emergency workers cannot reach them during and following a disaster, such as fires, hurricanes, tornadoes or floods.
“We’re going to teach them the basics of all hazards,” Mindy Blasetti, emergency management coordinator for the Cape Fire Department, said.
Citizens are trained to work their way out of a disaster area, extinguish small fires, perform light search and rescue and render basic first aid until emergency workers can arrive. They also gain an understanding of biological terrorism and weapons of mass destruction.
They learn the basic principals of disaster preparedness, what they can handle on their own and how to handle it, and when they need to call help for.
“We try to get all of our residents educated on safety,” Blasetti said. “So they’re not as intimidated about taking care of themselves.”
CERT training is held four times a year and each session involves seven consecutive classes. The upcoming session begins Jan. 19 and concludes March 2. The remaining sessions are usually held April through May, May through June and August through September.
The upcoming session will meet Wednesdays from 6:30-9:30 p.m. at the Cape Coral Emergency Operations Center, located at 1115 S.E. Ninth Ave. The training, which is free, is open to Cape residents and city employees.
Participants must be 16 years of age or older to sign up.
According to Blasetti, about 20 spots were available as of Wednesday.
“We usually try to do between 35 and 40,” she said.
CERT training, which is approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, is taught by different firefighters from the fire department and paramedics. The instructors engage the class in discussions on real-life situations that they have responded to in the past.
“Some nights are hands-on and some nights are lecture or discussion,” Blasetti said. “Each night we cover a different topic.”
The topics are search and rescue, basic first aid, generator and electrical safety, hazardous materials and weapons of mass destruction. One class on fire suppression covers fire extinguisher safety and allows the participants to put out a real fire using an extinguisher.
“They get to use it on a live fire and it actually makes them feel comfortable knowing how to use it,” Blasetti said.
Open discussion and questions are highly encouraged during class.
“They usually are pleasantly surprised by how much they learn,” she added.
Upon completing all seven weeks, the participants receive a CERT certificate and are eligible for a free CPR class taught by the fire department. The class takes one day and it is an American Heart CPR course, according to Blasetti.
For more information or to sign up for the CERT training, contact Mindy Blasetti at 242-3603 or mblasett@capecoral.net or Wendy Ryan-Smith at 242-3608 or wryan@capecoral.net.