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July 14, 2013

Possible community emergency response team for Grady County

— During televised coverage of a disaster, viewers sometimes see men and women in green vests and hardhats lending a hand. These community emergency response team (CERT) members are an asset during disaster, Dale Thompson, Emergency Management Director, said.

A CERT is a team of citizens who undergo training  in basic disaster response skills, such as using a fire extinguisher and basic search and rescue. CERT members can also be used during non-disaster situations such as traffic control during parades or serving as representatives at booths during events, Thompson said.

Damage assessment is one area in which a CERT group would be particularly helpful, Thompson said.

Potential CERT members undergo about 30 hours of training. The CERT program is approved by FEMA, Thompson said.

Thompson told the Grady County Commissioners at their regular meeting on Monday that Grady County may soon have their own CERT.

A CERT is something that Thompson said he has wanted for the county for a long time, but it wasn't until recently that a retired individual has stepped up and volunteered to manage a CERT. Previously, the problem was that there was no one to manage a CERT group.

The CERT program was started after September 11, 2001, Thompson said. After Hurricane Katrina, CERT groups became more prevalent, he said.

Thompson will be attending a meeting to learn more about setting up a CERT program for Grady County.

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