CERT completes disaster training

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 8, 2007

The Selma Times-Journal

Emergency personnel cannot attend to everyone, everywhere all at once. When disaster strikes, first responders are usually family or neighbors. For that reason, CERT teams are necessary.

Members of Dallas County’s new Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) wrapped up a three-day emergency response training session titled “Train the Trainer” on Thursday at City Hall Fire Department No. 1 on Franklin Street.

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“I would recommend anybody and everybody (do this),” said Danni Simmers of Emergystat Ambulance Service and Valley Grande Volunteer Fire Department.

The team of roughly 23 trainees was comprised of members of the Selma Fire Department, the Selma Police Department, the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department, UAB Family Medicine, Neighborhood Watch, Dallas, Tallapoosa and Autauga County EMAs, CHASM, Alabama Public Health and Alabama Technology.

“All of us learned a lot,” said Kevin Ross of Riverview Neighborhood Association and Neighborhood Watch.

The team worked together in mock disasters such as a tornado at “Firehouse Daycare” where they had to pull the injured to safety. There were 22 wounded and 3 casualties.

Team members also learned how to use fire extinguishers and had the opportunity to put their skills to the test when a mock gas leak caused a mock fire.

Rhonda Abbott of Dallas County EMA was very excited about being able to properly use an extinguisher to put out a fire, as her father is a volunteer firefighter.

Dr. Stacy Goode, a three-year resident at UAB Family Medicine, said she learned some new tips and techniques.

“I actually learned things that were not of my field of expertise,” she said. “These are types of things every member of the community should be exposed to.”

This is Dallas County’s first CERT Team and new EMA Director Pam Cook is excited about forming trained teams throughout the county that will be able to help save lives in emergency situations.

“There’s a niche for everybody,” said

Alabama EMA and CERT Coordinator Billy Green.

Green was assisted by Matt McCrakin of the Marion County EMA.

Ross said he learned that when responding in a disaster, it’s important to follow the buddy system and that “personal safety comes first.”

“If you get hurt, you become part of the problem” Simmers said.

The trainees were given CERT shirts and emergency backpacks filled with items such as glow sticks, duct tape, a flashlight, a hard hat and goggles.

When the training was complete, each member received a “Train The Trainer” Certificate of Achievement from the Alabama EMA.

At the end of the third day, the team seemed very motivated, proud and thankful for the training.

Goode said, “You never know. You (may) need to be the one to respond.”