Banks, COMMUNITY, News

CERT is back in Banks

After sending a group of volunteers through the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program last year, the Banks Fire District is planning a second class for interested volunteers in the Banks area.

Held over five dates in February and March, the first class filled up quickly. Those interested should contact the district to see about availability by emailing [email protected] with their first and last name, address, and phone number and email address. The classes will be held at one of the Banks Fire District stations (located in Banks, Buxton, and Timber).

More information can be found online.

CERT is a national program established by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The first class trained around a dozen people in skills ranging from first aid, search and rescue, to disaster preparedness and even terrorism response.

“It’s really grown into this nationally taught set of curriculum and training to help give additional training and insight to community members on how best that they can help themselves and their neighbors in the event of a natural or man-made disaster,” said Edward Lara during an interview for the first class. Lara is a Banks Fire District volunteer and the program manager for the CERT training.

He and other instructors—all trained through a “train the trainer” program—are well versed in the course material, he said.

This second class is another step in the district’s goals to create an auxiliary group of individuals in the greater Banks region who are prepared to aid the more regularly-trained volunteers and staff with the Banks Fire District.

“It can be any emergency situation at all where first responders or the community needs additional hands,” said Banks Fire spokesperson Scott Adams in October of last year.

He envisions a program where CERT trained individuals are available for major disasters, but are also working alongside the district throughout the year.

While a national course, the program allows for tailoring to the locality in which it’s taking place, so, for example, a module on hurricane preparedness might be taught in Florida, but not Oregon.

“We want them to have some experience, we want them to have the opportunity to work alongside us on smaller events throughout the year,” Adams said.

Lara said the course should take about 20 hours to complete in four four-hour training sessions followed by a practical exam during another session.

Lara said one of the biggest differences in CERT training compared to other courses is the immediate emphasis on teamwork.

The first unit of the course has participants do a team-building activity.

“It’s meant to show that different people with different levels of experience with different strengths and weaknesses can come together and accomplish something,” he said.

The class schedule, set on Thursday evenings from 6 to 10 p.m., is February 15, 22,29, and March 7 and 14 with a graduation to follow at the next monthly Banks Fire District Board meeting.

The Banks Fire District can be reached by phone at 503-324-6262

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Chas Hundley is the editor of the Banks Post and sister news publications the Gales Creek Journal and the Salmonberry Magazine. He grew up in Gales Creek and has a cat.

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