Weston’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) is now 97 members strong. After completing nine weeks of training by BSO Fire Rescue, the newest graduates were presented certificates by the Weston City Commission.
CERT volunteers are trained to provide aid to their families, neighbors and community during and after a disaster. Basic CERT training is available to all Weston residents, business owners and employees at no cost and is conducted one evening per week for a nine-week period. Participants receive instruction and take part in hands-on scenarios in disaster preparedness, fire safety and extinguishment techniques, disaster medical operations, light search and rescue operations, disaster psychology, anti-terrorism, and more.
“In the event of an actual disaster, experience tells us that first responders will be overwhelmed,” states Weston District Fire Chief Bruce Angier. “CERT’s primary purpose is to aid and support first responders by helping themselves, their families and their neighbors prior to first responders arriving. They are trained in first aid, rapid triage, light search and rescue, hazard identification, and damage assessment.”
The most recent CERT training session utilized Cleveland Clinic Florida for classroom and outside exercises. This partnership between BSO and the hospital provided the perfect location for volunteers to learn critical life-saving and emergency preparedness skills.
Following the successful completion of the basic CERT training program, members can participate in monthly CERT meetings that reinforce basic training skills and receive additional training in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and automated external defibrillator (AED) use. CERT volunteers can also attend presentations and demonstrations provided by other public safety professionals from various disciplines.
“CERT and CERT training better prepares our community for a potential disaster. The more prepared the community is, the less our community will have to depend on local government to respond to emergencies, and the sooner we can begin the recovery phase following a disaster,” notes Chief Angier.
To keep their skills sharp, CERT members take part in various training exercises and disaster drills. When Weston CERT hosted a regional disaster drill two years ago, more than 75 CERT members from eleven different municipalities participated. The program included interactive presentations and drills covering topics such as crowd control, traffic management, mass casualty incidents, and patient packaging.
In addition to providing disaster assistance, Weston CERT members also play a critical role in disseminating public safety information during scheduled city events and public gatherings.
Weston residents interested in joining the Community Emergency Response Team should contact Mary Ann Caporrino at Weston BSO Fire Rescue. She can be reached at MaryAnn_Caprrino@sheriff.org or 954-389-2015.