MARTINEZ, Calif. – Registration has started for free Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) classes that will qualify participants to become volunteer disaster service workers and enable them to help their neighbors and their families during calamities.
Saturday morning classes will meet from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sept. 15, 22 and 29 and Oct. 6 in the Martinez City Council Chamber of City Hall, 525 Henrietta St.
Tuesday classes will meet from 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Sept. 11, 18 and 25 and Oct. 2, 9 and 16 at the IBEW Hall, 1875 Arnold Drive.
The 20-hour course will teach participants how to make plans, build a kit and get involved in preparing for neighborhood and community emergencies.
An optional session from 8 a.m. to noon Oct. 20 at City Hall will give participants a practical review for emergency medical, medical triage, search and rescue and fire suppression skills.
In addition, the CERT Basic Training Disaster Drill Skills Exercise will take place at 2 p.m. Oct. 27. That exercise will qualify participants to volunteer as a Martinez disaster service worker.
CERT’s concept of training residents to be able to respond during disasters when other first responders may be prevented from answering calls began in 1985 with the Los Angeles Fire Department, and its value was underscored in 1987 during the Whittier Narrows earthquake.
In Northern California, the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake showed San Francisco residents they needed to be better prepared. Several asked their fire department to train civilians to know what to do until help arrives.
From there, training programs have spread throughout the Bay Area, including 14 in Contra Costa County, creating what the local organization calls “a culture of preparedness.”
The resulting CERT programs train residents in preparing for the next calamity, to be able to help family members and neighbors, manage utilities, extinguish small fires, provide basic medical aid and search and rescue victims.
Those completing the basic program are eligible for continuing education in first aid, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, radio communications and American Red Cross shelter operations. Online self-paced continuing education refresher classes, search and rescue tutorials, animal situation responses and national incident management also are available to graduates.
Those interested may register through the Martinez CERT website fall class webpage, http://martinezcert.org/Schedule.htm or email Martinez.CERT@gmail.com.