By Martha Underwood

Killeen Daily Herald

They trained to search partly collapsed buildings for tornado victims, hunt for a youngster missing from a family picnic and help with terrorism response.

The second Community Emergency Response Team, or CERT, class in Southwest Bell County will graduate at 7 p.m. tonight at the Southwest Bell County Volunteer Fire Department in Ding Dong. Guest speakers include County Judge Jon Burrows and County Commissioners John Fisher and Richard Cortese.

Fire chief Benny Spalding looks forward to help from the CERT team. "We are real glad to have them," Spalding said. "At large fires they can bring refreshments and supplies to firefighters. They can direct traffic or look for a lost child."

If there is a widespread disaster, the regular fire, EMS and police will be overwhelmed, said Richard Diller, CERT administrative and supply officer. "It makes sense to have an auxiliary backup to do the mundane chores, so as not to draw down manpower from the professional services."

"Southwest Bell County is an especially active and well organized group," said Burrows, who will speak at the graduation ceremony. "I am pleased they are so enthusiastic. They are a real asset to that part of the county."

Using video training and hands-on practice of skills learned, operations and training officer Bob McGuire taught students to search a building in the dark, direct traffic, administer basic first aid and triage victims according to severity of injuries.

The Southwest Bell CERT group has procured an equipment trailer through a county grant to house safety, rescue and other equipment to be hauled to a disaster site at a moment's notice. Everything from shade tarps, blankets and first aid supplies to chain saws, rock bars, and water will be stored in the trailer, ready to respond to an emergency.

The new CERT graduates are Fred and Peggy Morse, David and Royce Ann Crawford, Don Melton, John Heemer, Robert Wright, Lynn Lambden and Mary Pat Lambden. They join 15 other CERT volunteers in the rural area south of Killeen.

CERT graduates are issued an identification badge, a certificate of completion and a backpack equipped with hard hat, reflective vest, flashlight, all-purpose tool, two-way radio, mini first aid kit, canteen and much more.

The CERT team is led by John Mayer, with Judy Parker as deputy commander.

"In the old days, everyone was somewhat prepared for emergencies," said David Crawford, who joined CERT with his wife to learn what to do. "Living in the country, we need to know our neighbors better and know how to handle a disaster, if something comes along."

Contact Martha Underwood at

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