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Registration continues for city’s next CERT classes

By Staff | Apr 6, 2016

Cape Coral citizens have a chance to learn how to help themselves and others in a disaster.

The Cape Coral Fire Department is registering residents for its Community Emergency Response Team, or CERT, class. The program will run for eight consecutive weeks, with classes on Wednesdays from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the city’s Emergency Operations Center. The first class will be April 13.

Ellen Seeley, the CERT program manager, explained that it is a FEMA-sponsored class.

“It’s a program that teaches people how to prepare themselves and their family for any potential disasters that might affect their area,” she said. “It’s an opportunity for them to learn more about the community and Cape Coral’s potential hazards.”

About 1,500 citizens have completed the program, which the city started in 1997.

“A lot of people take the class for their own personal knowledge and education,” Seeley said.

The class is free and open to Cape residents ages 18 and older; children ages 16 and 17 may also participate in the program, but they have to be accompanied by a parent or an adult guardian.

The class materials are provided free of charge, as well.

“It’s just a great education for people,” she said.

Over the eight weeks, the CERT class covers a variety of subjects like light search and rescue, which teaches participants what to look for after a disaster and how they can help, and fire suppression.

“We actually let them put out a fire outside,” Seeley said.

“Believe it or not, a lot of people have never used a fire extinguisher,” she added.

The program goes over medical situations, such as how to identify the top three issues with a victim – airway, bleeding and shock. It also covers what the various symptoms are and what to look for in victims.

There is a section on disaster psychology, which discusses coping mechanisms for disaster victims and signs someone is struggling emotionally, as well as with weapons of mass destruction and terrorism.

“It’s more of developing a level of awareness of what’s going on around you,” Seeley said.

The program will also go over the city’s CERT and ways to get involved.

“We have about 100 to 150 active volunteers,” she said.

CERT volunteers can take part in public outreach and public education events, offer administrative assistance to the fire department at the EOC, serve at open public disaster shelters and more.

Residents have until April 12 to sign up.

As of Tuesday, approximately a dozen people had registered.

“I’d like to see another 10 or 20,” Seeley said.

To sign up for the CERT class or for more information on the program, contact Ellen Seeley at eseeley@capecoral.net or at the CCFD at (239) 573-3022.

The Cape Coral Emergency Operations Center is at 1115 S.E. Ninth Ave.