CERTS Class Graduates Gain Essential Skills | News, Sports, Jobs
The world can always use more volunteers, and the five recent graduates of the Marshall County Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) class are excited to offer their newly learned skills in important situations.
Marshall County Emergency Management Director Kim Elder said this is the first time she’s offered the course in at least three years and she’s excited to bring it back in 2022. The sessions have held once or twice a week for seven to eight weeks depending on student schedules, and Elder hopes to run a weekend course with two 10-hour sessions at the end of May if everything falls into place.
“Kim does a great job. She has other people on the CERT team who are there to help, and collectively they just made you feel welcome and made it worth it” , said Ron Crow, graduate.
With a certificate of completion, graduates can join a local CERT team like the County Elder Group oversees, but even if they don’t, the knowledge they’ve gained is still valuable.
“They can use this information and go back to their family, church, place of work or work and continue to use some of these citizen guidelines to help others,” Elder said. “It bridges that gap between untrained citizens and first responders, that gap between the two.”
Elder said there are similarities between CERTs and reserve police officers or firefighters, but graduating from the class does not automatically place an individual on the team. They do, however, have the opportunity to apply for the county’s CERT group, which operates on a voluntary basis.
As she explained, after first responders arrive at the scene of an emergency, she gathers information to see if CERTs would be useful to perform ancillary tasks, which can be as simple as write down event details, hand out water or direct traffic.
“It’s a little bit different from ‘Hey, there’s an event, everybody’s going.’ We’re not going on that first push. We’re going shortly after if they need us, but we’re not first responders,” Elder said. “They’re filling in the gaps.”
According to Elder and the graduates themselves, they each had their own reasons for getting involved in the class. Shawn Card wants to start a CERT team in the Meskwaki settlement where she works, and Dan Faas took the course a second time before finally applying to join the Marshall County CERT team.
Crow and Doug Swenson are members of New Hope Christian Church and wanted to know what they could do internally to help with emergencies at the church.
“In our mission team discussion, we’re always looking to reach out not just to the world, but to our local community to help others,” Crow said. “We have a lot of people in the church who are looking to come out and help, but they just need direction on what to do.”
Crow praised Elder’s training and said he would recommend the course to anyone whether they want to become more involved in the community or simply learn skills to benefit their own family. Fellow graduate Amy McCready expressed similar sentiments.
“It was a wonderful opportunity to learn about emergency preparedness for real life situations that could happen in my own home, workplace or any other public place. I feel much more prepared in my personal life and well equipped to help handle emergencies at work and when applying to be a Marshall County CERT volunteer member,” said McCready. “Kim and the CERT volunteers have done a great job teaching the class about those emergency responses that we as civilians can help with. I’m excited to put my newfound knowledge to the test and help as many as possible with CERT.”
After a few years of hiatus, Elder hopes to run the CERT class on a regular basis again, and she would like to replenish the county team roster after losing members to retirement, relocation and, in a few cases, dead. . Four of the five graduates of this class have applied to join the team, and Elder considers that a good sign.
“Thirty is kind of our goal, but we definitely went down for a variety of reasons,” she said.
To learn more about the Marshall County CERT team and/or courses, contact Elder at (641) 754-5725 or email@example.com.