By Ryan Gueningsman
DELANO, MN The City of Delano is looking for a number of citizens to step up and volunteer to be on the city’s newly-created Citizen Emergency Response Team (CERT).
“The training process is to help understand how to take care of yourself and your neighbor,” Delano Fire Chief Van Lith explained at a special city council work session Tuesday.
He said the CERT could come in handy should a situation ever present itself like the current flooding in the Red River Valley. The CERT could be used to coordinate a larger number of volunteers who may be responding to the area to assist with disaster relief or prevention methods.
Van Lith said they would be trained on the command center approach, and would lead people in situations like that.
“There are many things they’ll learn through this training course,” Van Lith said.
Another instance the team could be used would be for manning a first aid tent during the Fourth of July Celebration in Delano, instead of having Ridgeview do it.
Assistant to the city administrator, Luke Fischer said this course would help participants “learn the language” and know general responsibilities of an emergency situation.
“This is a great way for people to help themselves and their neighbors,” Fischer said.
The CERT program follows a national model that promotes readiness in the communities in the case of an emergency or natural disaster. Members are not “on-call” in the traditional sense, but rather, “ready” when needed.
The CERT program educates people about disaster preparedness for hazards that may impact their area and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations, according to the CERT web site, www.citizencorps.gov.
Using the training learned in the classroom and during exercises, CERT members can assist others in their neighborhood or workplace following an event when professional responders are not immediately available to help, according to the web site. CERT members are also encouraged to support emergency response agencies by taking a more active role in emergency preparedness projects in their community.
“Following a major disaster, first responders who provide fire and medical services will not be able to meet the demand for these services,” according to the web site. “Factors such as number of victims, communication failures, and road blockages will prevent people from accessing emergency services they have come to expect at a moment’s notice through 911. People will have to rely on each other for help in order to meet their immediate life saving and life sustaining needs.”
In Delano, the city’s public safety commission will oversee the program, with Van Lith and Fischer taking the lead on coordinating it. Van Lith said at the meeting he is still exploring options of what the city can expect from having a CERT team, and in turn, what CERT members should expect from the city.
Council Member Holly Schrupp asked how CERT members would be identified, and Van Lith said they would have a backpack, hardhat, gloves, and vest that would identify them as “Delano CERT.”
A question also came up about the background check process that would be done on interested candidates for the CERT team.
“I personally would like to see background checks,” Schrupp added.
“We have a responsibility to see to it they operate in a safe manner,” Van Lith said.
Van Lith will put together a recommendation to the council on the background check process and present it at a future meeting.
It was noted Delano will be the first community in Wright County to launch a CERT effort.
To get involved
Those interested in joining the CERT need to fill out an application, which is available at the city’s web site www.delano.mn.us.
The city is hosting a CERT open house Wednesday, April 15 at 7 p.m. at the Delano Fire Station.
For more information locally, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call (763) 972-0581.
For more information on CERT, go to www.citizencorps.gov/cert/about.shtm.
Open house Weds., April 15 for CERT
The City of Delano is hosting an open house to present more information on CERT Wednesday, April 15 at 7 p.m. at the Delano Fire Station.
For more information, e-mail email@example.com or call (763) 972-0581.