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Volunteers will play a key role if disaster strikes

By Staff | Aug 19, 2010

If West Maui is struck by a major disaster, first responders that provide fire and medical services will not be able to help everyone.

“Factors such as number of victims, communication failures and road blockages will prevent people from accessing emergency services they have come to expect at a moment’s notice through 911,” the Federal Emergency Management Agency noted.

“People will have to rely on each other for help in order to meet their immediate lifesaving and life-sustaining needs.”

To prepare for the worst and create a network of citizens trained in disaster response in neighborhoods around the island, the Maui County Civil Defense Agency offers Citizen Corps and CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) training.

CERT instruction will be offered on the West Side beginning Sept. 28 from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. at Lahaina Civic Center.

The training includes disaster preparedness, fire suppression, medical operations, light search and rescue, disaster psychology and team organization, and even a disaster simulation (visit http://www.citizencorps.gov/cert/about.shtm for detailed information).

According to FEMA, “CERT is about readiness, people helping people, rescuer safety and doing the greatest good for the greatest number. CERT is a positive and realistic approach to emergency and disaster situations where citizens will be initially on their own and their actions can make a difference.

“Through training, citizens can manage utilities and put out small fires; treat the three killers by opening airways, controlling bleeding and treating for shock; provide basic medical aid; search for and rescue victims safely; and organize themselves and spontaneous volunteers to be effective.”

In the chaos following a disaster, these trained citizens will save lives. To volunteer, call Civil Defense at 270-7285.