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Quad City CERT Making a Difference in Local Communities
Having just come through a worldwide pandemic, the Quad City Community Emergency Response Team is always looking to add more citizen volunteers to their ranks, according to Executive Director Steven Peine.
“We’re here for the people, and we back up the fire department as needed,” said Peine. “Even at the county level, during the COVID pandemic, we helped out with the inoculations – some 80,000 people in Cuyahoga County. We donated over 1,200 hours to that cause.”
The group has been offering free CERT classes in disaster preparedness training to residents of Brooklyn Heights, Independence, Seven Hills and Valley View since 2003 in conjunction with the Independence Fire Department, according to Peine, who also serves as an instructor.
“We try to bring the greatest good to the greatest number of people; that’s basically what we’re here for,” Peine continued. “We try to assist our community and our fellow man to make sure that everyone is prepared for any kind of disaster whether it be natural or man-made – we’re just here to help out.”
An eight-week course to be held in the Independence Fire Department training room will touch on subjects such as fire safety, light search and rescue operations, team organization, disaster medical operations, CPR/AED, “Stop the Bleed” and active shooter situations. The CERT training, which consists of three hours of instruction each week on Wednesday nights beginning Sept. 15, is free to residents 16 and over.
“We’re one of the few CERT teams I know of that takes people 16 and over,” said Peine. “And for high school students, they can apply this as part of their community service hours.”
The team currently counts nearly 300 residents who have completed the training over the years ranging in age from teenagers to octogenarians. The group of residents, which must first be activated by local fire departments, serves all four communities as needed. They also receive additional training in conjunction with University Hospitals, according to Peine.
“You have to be prepared for everything, like with an active shooter situation,” he continued. “Or if there is a chemical spill, we teach our people how to handle that and how to triage those who need medical help. We also participated in airport emergency training.”
According to the Quad City CERT website, the training program was first developed by the Los Angeles, California Fire Department in 1993. More than 1,100 communities around the nation now participate in a CERT program.
“For anyone who goes through our training, if they have a disaster in their own home, they’ll know what to do,” said Peine. “If they were to have a gas leak – we give them a duffel bag with tools in it – they’ll be able to turn off the gas in their house. The training includes practical applications in case you’re ever involved in a disaster situation in your home or in your community.”