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Registration under way for CERT certification class

By Staff | May 5, 2011

Registration is open for the upcoming Community Emergency Response Team class, hosted by the Cape Coral Fire Department.
Community Emergency Response Team, or CERT, is a seven-week course that takes place on Wednesdays from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Cape Coral Emergency Operations Center. The course, a national program, prepares participants on how to handle an emergency situation or major disaster.
“We’re trying to educate as many people as we can to keep them safe and keep their families safe,” Wendy Ryan-Smith, with Cape fire, said.
First responders typically try to reach those in need within five minutes. In the case of a widespread diaster, such as a hurricane, flooding or man-made event, that goal can be tougher to reach because more people are impacted.
“There’s no way we’ll be able to get to everybody in the five minutes, or less than five minutes,” Ryan-Smith said.
Cape fire has been providing the course to residents for several years.
“It goes over the hazards that are likely to affect your home and your self,” she said. “Steps to prepare for a disaster and identify potential risks.”
The topics covered by the course include disaster preparedness, medical, fire suppression and hazardous materials, light search and rescue, weapons of mass destruction, disaster psychology and volunteering for emergency operations management.
“There’s a lot of it that’s done in the classroom,” Ryan-Smith said.
Participants also get some hands-on training. During the class on fire suppression, they get to use a fire extinguisher to put out a burning pan. For the light search and rescue class, a mini-drill is planned for the participants.
“Everybody kind of takes a role as to what their ailment is,” she said.
The course is free for Cape residents and will run from May 25-July 7.
After the program concludes, there will be a demonstration by the Cape fire department and a graduation. Participants will be given a CERT certificate.
Ryan-Smith added that each participant that completes the CERT course will have the opportunity to be certified in CPR during a separate future class.
“It’s kind of a bonus,” she said.
The CERT course is open to residents age 16 and older.
“There are high school students that are taking this and it goes to their class credits and service hours,” Ryan-Smith said.
The program is perfect for those new to the Southwest Florida area.
“This is a whole new environment than the north,” she said.
“It’s just all really good information for anywhere,” Ryan-Smith added.
Those who complete the CERT course also have the option to volunteer during disasters by working at emergency shelters or serving out in the field, such as distributing food and water. Participants can also do office work for the emergency operations or help with things like toy drives.
“New opportunities are on the horizon,” she said.
Residents must be 18 or older to volunteer.
To sign up for the CERT course, contact Wendy Ryan-Smith at 242-3608 or e-mail wryan@capecoral.net. Residents can register up until May 25.
The Emergency Operations Center is located at 1115 S.E. Ninth Ave.