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Community Emergency Response Team training set

By Staff | Jul 23, 2009

LAHAINA — The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training program provides education about disaster preparedness for hazards that may impact communities.

This program trains participants in basic disaster response skills for situations in which professional responders will not be immediately available, and citizens will initially be on their own.

A free, six-day, 30-hour CERT training program will be held in West Maui on Aug. 17, 19, 22, 24, 26 and 29.

Sessions will be held at Lahaina Civic Center with Maui Fire Department instructors.

CERT is modeled on the Neighborhood Watch program and focuses on preparing small communities and local neighborhoods to effectively work together in the event that a large-scale disaster impacts Maui.

CERT teams are literally the first line of defense that will help neighbors in the critical hours and days until professional assistance arrives. Trained CERT volunteers can also assist their neighborhoods and communities in pre-disaster preparedness.

According to Maui County Civil Defense, Maui is susceptible to damage or loss of life from earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, fires, hurricanes, pandemics and terrorism, including nuclear and biological contamination.

“In the event of a disaster, such as a hurricane or tsunami, when there is large-scale damage and destruction, it may take some time before help comes,” said Maui Civil Defense Administrator Gen Iinuma. “The county government will be working and helping, but you will have to wait your turn.”

It’s expected that emergency services will not meet immediate needs following a major disaster, especially if there is no warning, as in an earthquake or locally generated tsunami.

Survival may depend on the response of trained volunteers.

Pacific Disaster Center Hazard Mitigation Specialist Sharon Mielbrecht said, “Everyone should find time to take the training, and should take it seriously.

“When a disaster occurs, you are your own ‘first-responder,’ and you may also be the first-responder for your family and neighbors.”

Mielbrecht said minutes can make a difference in survival, and hours are very important for securing property and arranging for your family’s safety.

“Yet, it may be days before stressed and overburdened public services reach you,” Mielbrecht said. “‘Be prepared’ is a good motto, and part of being prepared is to participate in training such as the CERT program offers.”

As part of that preparation, Mielbrecht encourages every family to develop an emergency plan and assemble an emergency survival kit (visit www.co.maui.hi.us/departments/CivilDefense for more information).

CERT trainees receive classroom instruction and participate in field exercises in the basics of home and workplace preparedness, disaster fire suppression, disaster medical operations (basic triage procedures and first-aid assistance), disaster psychology and team organization, light search and rescue and how to work with victims of shock and disorientation.

Trainees will receive instruction from Maui County firefighters on structural hazard identification and how to safely assist in a rescue. Volunteers are also trained how to teach people to assist them and emergency responders.

Training culminates with a course review, disaster simulation and after-action review.

There is no charge for CERT training, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

To register, or for more information, contact Maui County Civil Defense Hazard Mitigation Staff Specialist Bob Collum at 270-7285 or Robert.collum@mauicounty.gov.