By Michelle Guffey
Killeen Daily Herald
DING DONG Neighbors helping neighbors was the message at this weeks Community Emergency Response Team graduation in Southwest Bell County.
The 21-hour course graduated 27 residents at the Southwest Bell County Volunteer Fire Department in Ding Dong.
The idea is to stabilize (a disaster) area until first responders arrive, Fire Chief John Mayer said.
CERT training provides the basic skills necessary to handle the aftermath of a disaster for you and for others. This is particularly necessary when roads are clogged with debris and communications are disrupted, preventing emergency response teams from accessing the area.
What you are doing is essentially the best thing you can do you are standing up for yourselves and your community, Bell County Fire Marshal Steve Casey told the graduates.
Using the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina as an example, Casey told the crowd that they have to ask themselves how can they save themselves because in a disaster there might not be anyone else.
I felt this was something everybody could benefit from, said graduate Joe Bartom of Killeen.
CERT started about three years ago with just three people and now has 50 people participating, Mayer said.
CERT is an offshoot of the old Civil Defense, he said. Teams train once a month at the Ding Dong volunteer fire department. The course includes disaster preparedness, fire suppression, search and triage, disaster medical operations, rescue, disaster psychology and mock disaster.
When we have an alert, we marshal here, Mayer said. And we are prepared to handle a disaster for 72 hours, until first responders arrive.
Its all about Texans helping Texans, he said.
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