March 30, 2013

Free CERT class helps Whitfield families prepare for potential disasters

Submitted by Whitfield County government

— A tornado warning was issued for Whitfield County last week. Fortunately, a twister did not strike.

To make sure you and your family are ready for a disaster, should it actually strike Whitfield County, you might want to sign up for the seventh session of the Whitfield County Emergency Management Agency’s CERT (Community Emergency Response Team)  program being offered for free to county residents.

Officials with Whitfield EMA say space is still available for the session to be held in April and May, and they hope to sign up 25 people. Six previous classes since 2010 have already resulted in 123 graduates, many of whom have been active helping after tornadoes in Catoosa and Gordon counties.

“Local governments prepare every day for emergencies,” said Jeff Ownby, deputy EMA director. “However, during a disaster, the number and scope of incidents can overwhelm conventional emergency services. CERT is designed to help you protect yourself, your family and your immediate community in the event of a major situation in your neighborhood.”

CERT is a positive and realistic approach to emergency and disaster situations where citizens may initially be on their own and their actions can and do make a difference, Ownby said.

“While people will respond to others in need without the training, one goal of the CERT program is to help them do so effectively and efficiently without placing themselves in unnecessary danger, therefore minimizing one’s risk of bodily injury and simply becoming another victim,” he said.

Participants will receive training in the areas of disaster preparedness, fire safety, medical operations and basic first aid, search and rescue, and more.

The class will consist of three training days, and attendees must attend all sessions in order to receive CERT certification. The “final exam” is a mock disaster drill held on the final Saturday of the second week.

The class schedule is:

• Saturday, April 27: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

• Sunday, April 28: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

• Saturday, May 4: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Classes are held at the Whitfield County Fire/911/EMA Headquarters building at 804 Professional Blvd. in Dalton.

For more  information about this free program, contact Claude Craig, Jeff Ownby or Carla Kelley with Whitfield County 911 at (706) 370-4911 or email cert@whitfieldcountyga.com. You can also check out the program on Facebook at Whitfield CERT.

For more information about the National CERT program, visit www.citizencorps.gov/cert/.