KATY MAGAZINE NEWS
August 22, 2022
By Natalie Cook Clark
Online registration is open for the free Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) offered by Harris County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management along with Harris County ESD48 Fire and EMS department. During the 4-week course participants cover a variety of topics that can be put to use during community emergencies.
Photo credit: Harris County ESD48 Fire and EMS department
Community Members can Train for Emergency Preparedness
The Katy-area has had Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training since 2015 and it’s a great way for volunteers to learn and train on emergency preparedness and to better understand hazards that could impact their area.
“The information and skills learned benefits the individual, their family members and their community,” says Mary Payne, Harris County ESD48 CERT Facilitator and Vice President Katy Area CERT. “For the community it allows CERT members, following FEMA processes, to be organized and respond immediately in their communities so professional responders can easily take over once they arrive.”
The program was initially founded in Los Angeles in 1985 and later adopted by other fire departments across the country. FEMA later expanded the CERT materials to make them applicable to all hazards.
“First responders can be overwhelmed during a disaster and may not be readily available to get to a community or in some cases cannot access some of our areas as in flood events,” says Payne. “Through pre-event planning, neighborhoods and worksites can work together and be ready when the 911 professionals are delayed.”
CERT trains participants for any natural or man-made disasters that could impact the Katy community.
“These events may include, hurricanes, tornados, flooding, and projects that occur where the CERT team is asked to participate,” says Payne.
Katy-area CERT volunteers have offered assistance and made a difference in the Katy community.
“Katy Area CERT responded to hurricane Harvey,” says Payne. “With our skills we were able to help HCESD48 with a staging area for evacuees. During Winter storm in 2021, CERT members went around shutting off water in various communities. You’d be surprised how many people do not know how or where to turn off their water.”
According to Payne, two local CERT volunteers assisted with shooting incident in their community by controlling traffic and applying general first aid until the 911 professionals arrived.
CERT volunteers also assist during community events such as food drives, the BP MS150 bike race, toy drives, smoke alarm blitz events, and more.
Registration is Open Online
Registration is opened online for the next training session. Training lasts 4 weeks and meets every Tuesday and Thursday from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. The next training dates are September 6, 8, 13, 15, 20, 22, 27, and a final drill on the 29th. The course meets at the Harris County ESD No. 48 Administration Building at 21201 Morton Road.
“Once completed with the CERT training, many members continue training in various areas such as Emergency Animal Response training and Red Cross Disaster Assistance Teams,” says Payne.
Training includes fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, disaster medical operations, terrorism awareness, and more. The course ends with a Disaster Simulation Drill.
“Communities have always come together during a disaster, but many are not aware of how or what to do to organize a disaster site where first responders can easily come in and get the injured parties out quicker to medical attention,” says Payne.
Learn more about the free CERT training and register online. Training is free and includes a manual and starter backpack.
“By learning basic skills in being prepared for what may occur and performing pre-event planning in your community, neighborhoods and worksites, the individuals learn the skills and steps to be prepared as well as how to work together in reducing injuries, loss of lives and property damage,” explains Payne.