Sunday, December 4, 2022

Do you have what it takes to be a CERT member? Here’s one way to find out

Virginia Beach Community Emergency Response Team members during a past training (Southside Daily photo/Courtesy of Virginia Beach CERT)
Virginia Beach Community Emergency Response Team members during a past training (Southside Daily photo/Courtesy of Virginia Beach CERT)

VIRGINIA BEACH — Have you ever wanted to take part in a free training that will enable you to help out in times of need in your neighborhood or your community?

For those who do, the City of Virginia Beach is holding a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) six-week training that begins with an orientation on June 4.

“The Virginia Beach CERT team participates and volunteers at many different events in the city during the year, such as Strawberry Festival, Shamrock Marathon, and Senior Showcase,” said Cookie Ketcham, VBCERT program manager in the Office of Emergency Preparedness. “They’re doing everything from traffic control, to driving handicapped carts, manning a handicapped parking lot, set-up, setting up a booth, and many other things.”

She said one of CERT member’s favorite things to do is work with the police and fire departments when they do exercises, giving CERT volunteers the opportunity to participate as victims.

Anyone can participate in the training. Ketcham said they accept volunteers from age 12 and older.

“We even had a lady who was 82 years old take the training and she loved it. Those from age 12 to 18 must bring a responsible adult with them,” she added.

The six-week course will educate residents about disaster preparedness, especially those that might impact the area in which they live. They’ll be trained in basic disaster response skills such as fire safety and suppression, light search and rescue, team organization, disaster medical operations, and disaster psychology.

There are no physical requirements, Ketcham said. There’s a place on the CERT team for everyone, since some volunteers are tasked with the more physical activities while others take notes or map out locations of victims.

If a disaster happens that overwhelms local emergency responders, CERT volunteers would have the opportunity to put their training to use, she said.

All classes except the last will be at the Fire Training Center, 927 S. Birdneck Road.

Information is available on the VBCERT website or by calling Ketcham at 757-385-2914.

Here’s the complete training schedule:

  • June 4, 2018 – Orientation
  • June 6, 2018 – Disaster preparedness
  • June 11, 2018 – Fingerprinting, EOC, 911 call center, terrorism training (FBI)
  • June 13, 2018 – Weather and team organization
  • June 18, 2018 – Disaster medical operations I
  • June 20, 2018 – Disaster medical operations II
  • June 25, 2018 – CPR certification
  • June 27, 2018 – Light search and rescue operations
  • July 9, 2018 – Fire suppression and Hazmat
  • July 11, 2018 – Disaster psychology/radio training
  • July 14, 2018 –  Practical evolution/mock disaster

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