Columbia County currently has a total of 187 citizens who are certified members of the Community Emergency Response Team. CERT members are trained to help their neighbors and community in the event of an emergency or disaster.
CERT training started in Columbia County in January 2004 with citizens from all over Columbia County volunteering their time to learn emergency response skills that make our community safer. CERT members have made a difference in our community in numerous ways, as well as helping Hurricane Katrina victims in Gulfport, Miss., last year.
The CERT program includes training in disaster preparedness, fire suppression, disaster medical operations (such as triage, treating life threatening injuries, assessment, treatment and hygiene), light urban search and rescue, team organization, disaster psychology and a disaster simulation exercise.
Seasoned instructors from the Emergency Management Agency, Martinez-Columbia Fire Rescue, Gold Cross EMS, Grovetown Department of Public Safety, Columbia County Sheriff's Office and the Augusta Chapter of the American Red Cross volunteer their time to conduct the training.
When emergencies happen, CERT members can give critical support to first responders, (who can easily become overwhelmed in major events), provide immediate assistance to victims, and organize spontaneous volunteers at a disaster site. CERT members are also called upon to assist other counties and states during major disasters.
CERT members can also help with non-emergency projects that help improve the safety of the community, such as making public presentations, assisting with public safety awareness events and assisting with community disaster exercises.
The CERT training program is provided to Columbia County citizens who are 18 years or older at no cost. This program is 100 percent funded by Homeland Security Grant funds. If you would like to be a part of this team, please contact the Columbia County Emergency Services Office at (706) 868-3303 or e-mail me at email@example.com to sign up for training. Spaces are limited, so sign up early!
Pam Tucker, Director of Columbia County Emergency Services Division
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