Lehi citizens being trained for the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). Photo courtesy of Brian Sump

Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) are trained to help neighborhoods and communities mitigate disasters during the first 72 hours following a disaster when access by professional emergency response teams might be restricted. The purpose of CERT training is to provide private citizens with basic skills needed to handle virtually all of their own needs and then to respond to their neighborhoods and community needs in the aftermath of a disaster. All adults are invited to take the training course which will run from 6:30-9:30 p.m. on Thursdays beginning September 15, for four weeks at Lehi Fire Station #82, 250 W. 2600 N. The fee for the course is $35 and includes safety apparel, equipment, and the course materials.

Scott Sampson, Lehi City’s Emergency Manager, said that “CERT is very important in times of crisis. These trained individuals are able to assist first responders and manage volunteers with handling check-in and check-out functions, staging of volunteers, managing food, water, and shelter for responders, equipment handling, and monitoring ham radio communications.” This program has been active in Lehi for several years and has been invaluable on many occasions.

Brian Sump, the director of Lehi’s CERT, said, “There are about 300 people trained in Lehi, but for a city of over 50,000, that is not nearly enough.” He noted that as part of the training process, prospective members receive background checks and when they become CERT members they are able to work in any community. He recently went to another community to help with a search for a lost child and while almost 200 would-be volunteers were waiting to have background checks so they could help, he was immediately put in charge of a team and was out searching.

Susan Keller has been CERT trained for a few years and has enjoyed the experience. “I liked having hands-on experience with a fire extinguisher in putting out a real fire during CERT training. I’d never really used a fire extinguisher before, and after training I am more comfortable knowing how to use it during an actual emergency because I’ve actually done it. CERT focuses on teaching you to first help yourself, then your own family, then your immediate neighbors. You can then decide if you continue to help at the broader community level,” she said.

Sump indicated that this training is helpful for anyone, but is vital for anyone who might be in charge of a group in an emergency situation such as teachers or those who have emergency preparedness or communications callings in the LDS Church. Anyone interested in completing this training or who would like more information should go to http://www.lehicert.org.

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