Source: Sherman Publications

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CERT, community prepares for disasters

by Susan Bromley

April 04, 2012

From left Jim Grimm gets his arm examined by Ted Dowis at the CERT Search & Rescue training. Photo by Patrick McAbee.
Brandon Twp.- With the arrival of spring comes the potential for tornadoes, high winds and other severe weather.

Members of the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) here are now better prepared to handle disaster situations after search and rescue training March 31 at Oakwood Community Church.

About 15 volunteers acted as victims in a scenario in which a windstorm had come through the area. CERT members were to "rescue" the volunteers by searching the church building and removing the victims to a simulated triage area.

"The training went well," said Brandon Fire Captain Erich Schudlich. "In such a scenario (firefighters) could be overwhelmed. We could utilize CERT to search less damaged areas and take care of people. They did a good job in training and learned a lot."

While CERT members are not trained to go into a building with structural damage, they can search buildings with minor damage.

The team, comprised of 35 township residents, offers assistance to the fire department and community in a variety of ways. They provide traffic control during events such as CreekFest, Septemberfest, Halloween and Christmas in the Village. Teammembers check on senior citizens during power outages and extreme weather and also guard downed powerlines. CERT even gives support to firefighters during major fires.

CERT was established in the township in 2005, under a federal grant, but is now entirely self-funded.

About 20 CERT members received about four hours of search and rescue training last Saturday.

"I thought it was a great exercise—it brings a lot of awareness about how important it is to help our community," said Brian Reynolds, Oakwood Community Church deacon. "You see people who volunteer their time to help someone else when even their family could be endangered in such an emergency."

For more information on CERT or how to join, contact Fire Chief Dave Kwapis at 248-627-4000.