Clovis Emergency Response Team keeping public on its toes through disaster prep training courses

A Firefighter instructs CERT members on a training exercise. [Photo contributed]

You’re living in a community where a widespread fire takes place and your water resources have been compromised. What would you do? How could you help or better yet would you be able to?

We often ask ourselves these question after the damage has been done. However, there are resources available right here in the community to help train you in basic disaster response skills.  Clovis Emergency Response Team (CERT) is offering a free 5-week Disaster Preparedness Training Course every Tuesday and Thursday from Jan. 10 to Feb. 9 at the Clovis Fire Department Headquarters on 1233 Fifth St. from 6-9 p.m.

The program is designed to help people be informed on how to take care of their family in case of an emergency. Each class provides light refreshments, a FEMA handbook and professional knowledge with hands-on activities to give you confidence and firsthand experience if a disaster were to occur. It is open to the public and available for anyone who is 18 years and older.

”There isn’t anyone teaching these classes who isn’t a professional. The fire department employees and police department employees who have all of the expertise and the experience are teaching these classes,” said Clovis CERT senior volunteer Shirley Redman. “So you learn from their experiences and that’s what make the classes more fulfilling.”

The training is broken up into individual modules that include: Disaster Preparedness, Fire and Safety Suppression, Medical Operations I & II, Medical Operations Practice I & II, Light Search & Rescue, CERT Organization, Disaster Psychology, Terrorism, Simulation Overview Practice and Disaster Simulation. Attendance to all sessions is awarded with a Certificate of Completion.

“In Clovis we have almost 110,000 people and on duty we have at any given time 15 fire fighters, so you can imagine during a disaster you can’t do very much with 15 fire fighters,” said Clovis Fire Prevention Officer Andy Isolano. “With CERT we can help and triple their numbers just with our response team. So by having the volunteer program we are able to effectively cover the community and provide a much larger scale of protection for the community.”

CERT went into effect about 12 years ago and is a community volunteer service that strives to make a collaborative effort to ensure safety and livability in the community.  Their mission is to “harness the power of every individual through education, training and volunteer service to make communities safer, stronger and better prepared to respond to the threats of terrorism, crime, public health issues and disasters.”

“It was originally designed by FEMA to prepare people and assist in their communities in the event of a disaster with such things like turning the gas off, shutting down power, notifying the professionals that there is an injured person at a location or a fire,” Isolano said. “Just basically the eyes and ears for areas that are beyond the major devastation areas. Even with people putting caution tape out and by doing the trainings next week. If the community is prepared, then the community can help the fire fighters too.”

Isolano, who assisted as a firefighter in New York City during 9/11, said they couldn’t have gotten their jobs done without the volunteers that helped.

“They were our biggest assets,” he said. “So I’m really passionate about it.”