Program trains community on how to help during a disaster

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UPSHUR COUNTY, W. Va. (WDTV) - The Community Emergency Response Program , also known as CERT, began as a regional operation IN 1984 organized by the Los Angeles fire department- after 9/11 first responders were inspired to expand the program nationwide.

"In 2001, following 9/11, they set down guidelines to coordinate efforts throughout the entire nation," said Steve Wykoff

Wykoff, a CERT instructor in Buckhannon, says the program helps to create a standard protocol so that no matter where the emergency occurs, CERT members know how to respond.

"So the same thing we're learning this evening and throughout this entire course will be the same if you go to California, Alaska, or Florida," Wykoff said

CERT trains members of the community to be able to respond to incidents that first responders may not be able to get to right away.

"By having cert participants trained we're going to be able to assist in lower priority issues," Wykoff said "For example, if there's a small building collapse and people have cuts, broken bones, bruises, we're going to be able to help them out,"

While the CERT program is not new to Buckhannon, it has become hard for them to recruit new volunteers.

"So it's not something new, but it's hard to get that information out to the public and get them interested in it,"

The 20 hour training program, which is free for the public, is offered in Buckhannon annually but can also be arranged based on need.

"We try to do it at least once a year, but as needed," Wykoff said "So if we have more of a call later one and wants to have that training we'll set that up for them,"

Before finishing the course, cert provides not just the knowledge but also the tools to be prepared in an emergency.

Once participants are finished with the course they will receive, free of charge, a backpack full of safety supplies that will help them execute the skills they’ve learned in a real emergency situation.

To bring the CERT course to your work, school, or organization you can contact the Buckhannon Volunteers In Police Service (VIPS) program.