BECKLEY, WV (WOAY) – The Beckley Fire Department is going to start holding Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training, a free program giving regular people a chance to learn how to help themselves and their neighbors when disasters occur.
“What we do is we train individuals on how to take care of themselves in case of a disaster and then branch out and help their neighbors, but we give them training so they can do it in a safe manner and not be injured themselves,” says LT. Chris Graham, CERT leader.
The fire department has been hosting CERT training for about seven years, apart from last year when it was canceled due to COVID. And this training gives people practical knowledge and skills such as safely shutting off home utilities and putting out small household fires.
“The CERT motto is ‘Do the greatest good for the greatest number of people,’ and as a firefighter that’s something I can get behind because that’s something I want to do, just putting a little good back into our corner of the world,” he says. “It’s a great outlet for anyone who’s ever wanted to help but they aren’t sure what to do.”
But the training isn’t your basic first aid class, as it also teaches people to know what to do during state and even worldwide emergency disasters that may include treating injuries and even helping out at vaccine clinics during the pandemic.
“At any given time there are at least 9 firefighters on duty and I’m not sure how many policemen, but if disaster does happen our services become taxing very quickly, so CERT members have a good opportunity of becoming the eyes and ears of the fire department and maybe the police department, and if people are trained, they can mitigate certain hazards themselves and it kind of takes some of the stress off the fire and police departments,” explains Graham.
The emergency team occasionally partners with organizations such as the Raleigh County 9-1-1 Center, the Health Department, and the American Red Cross to provide extra helping hands when disaster does strike.
Spots are still available for those 15 and older who would like to take part in the training. The first class begins on Sept. 9 from 6-9 p.m. If you’re interested, you can call the Beckley Fire Department at (304) 256-1780, or by visiting Beckley CERT on Facebook or at beckleycert.org.