Be Ready And Stay Prepared

Judy Kramer
County Reporter
Benton County’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) held an Open House on August 27, at the Warsaw/Lincoln Ambulance Barn in Warsaw. The volunteer organization is offering free classes in September and March to members of the public who want to prepare for emergencies by learning about light fire suppression, medical triage and search and rescue. The Open House provided the opportunity to meet class instructors, hear class overviews, find out about the CERT volunteer organization and to ask questions.
CERT operates under the umbrella of Benton County’s Emergency Management Office. Marie Payne-Bowman is the coordinator of CERT, and Martha Foster is the assistant director. Samantha Henley, Deputy Director of Benton County Emergency Management, is the government contact that sponsors CERT.
“There are four levels of commitment for those taking the classes,” said Henley. “The first level is for those who want training in order to take care of themselves and their families. The second level is for those who want to take care of themselves, family, and the community. The third level is for those who want to take care of themselves, family, community and are willing to be deployed in Missouri if needed. The fourth level is everything listed in the first three levels, plus being willing to be deployed anywhere.
CERT volunteers had been sent to such places as Houston, TX, and Puerto Rico in the past.”
Henley said that this program was first launched in Los Angeles, California, in order to give people the ability to take care of themselves after an earthquake while waiting for help from first responders. She said that there are not a lot of first responders in our area, so CERT volunteers can play an important role helping their families and the community during emergency situations.”
The CERT training involves a mandatory 20 hours of instruction. The classes in September will be held on Monday and Thursday evenings, from 5:30 to 8:30 PM, in the Warsaw/Lincoln Ambulance Barn at 1205 Medic Drive. The dates are September 10, 13, 17, 20, 24, 27, and a makeup day is scheduled for September 29. Classes in March will be held during the day from 9 AM to 3 PM. Schedules are still in the planning stage. Active CERT members will also have tabletop training available during other times of the year, lasting about three hours, to help them stay up to date.
“The ideal class size is 10 to 15 trainees,” said Henley. “That way they get more hands-on time and have an equal opportunity to learn. We are looking for volunteers to sign up for classes.”
CERT trainer for classes in September is Samantha Henley. Marie Payne-Bowman will take over in March. Guest trainers will be Christie Barber, Martha Foster, Sal Rios, and Jude Kelley.
Community partners in Warsaw have volunteered to provide dinners for CERT trainees. They are McDonald’s, Subway, Sonic and Pizza Hut.