CERT team completes disaster training at Westwood Baptist Church

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Selma Times-Journal

When disaster strikes, time is critical. When emergency responders have to attend to numerous individuals, getting care can be a waiting game. That’s where CERT teams come in.

A group of 30 completed the training necessary to become a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) on Saturday, June 16 at Westwood Baptist Church, located on Highway 80 W. The group trained for two Saturdays, beginning on June 9.

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“They did really good,” EMA director and CERT Trainer Pam Cook said.

The participants, who named themselves the “Dallas County CERT Lifesavers,” learned how to respond in the event of a disaster.

“I thought it was great,” said Evelyn Cox,

participant and retired senior volunteer program coordinator for Dallas County.

Having never taken any type of disaster training before, Cox said it was “beneficial” and “well needed.”

“I’m more knowledgeable,” she said. “It was well worth it.”

Team member David White, executive director of Easter Seals West Central Alabama, agrees.

“It was really good,” he said. “It (makes you aware) of how much you don’t know.”

The team learned fire safety, disaster medical, search and rescue, CERT organization, disaster psychology and how to react in the event of a terrorist attack.

“You’ve got to have the hands-on,” White said.

Cox said she has a fire extinguisher in her house, but has never actually used one.

“(Now) I know the feel of it and how to utilize it,” she said.

Keeping themselves safe and

never venturing out alone is drilled into trainees over and over again. Cook said the reasoning behind that is “you’re going to become a victim.”

“You can’t be out there yourself,” White said. ” You need the group effort.”

The team was given T-shirts, and emergency backpacks filled with emergency items such as glow sticks, duct tape, a flashlight, a hard hat and goggles.

Cox said she loves to volunteer and help others and felt a bond with her group.

“I met a lot of wonderful people,” she said.

The next CERT training will be held July 14 and 21. The location will be announced at a later date. Members of the community are urged to sign up at the EMA office, located in the basement of the Dallas County Courthouse Annex.

White said reading about how to react is no comparison to actually going through the motions.

“It’s not as easy as it looks,” he said. “Working with a team is better. The more people involved, the better it is for the community.”