There’s no doubt the Guadalupe County Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) is ready, willing and able. Just 42 days after its first training class, the newly-created team made up of citizen-volunteers was “activated” to assist emergency operations at Lake Dunlap during the Guadalupe River flood of 2010. That’s when they showed up in POVs (privately owned vehicles) to help the Road and Bridge Department remove downed trees blocking roads so first responders, like EMS and the fire department, could get through.

While CERT volunteers provided much needed manpower that day, they had to rely on equipment and supplies already at the scene. But now, thanks to a Power Up grant, the all-volunteer CERT team is better equipped for future operations.

Mickey Townsend, CERT team leader and trainer, says the Power Up grant helped to outfit the emergency response trailer assigned to their group by the regional Citizen Corps.

“We’re very grateful to GVEC members for making the grant possible,” Townsend says. “Instead of showing up with just manpower, we can now show up with equipment that can help us do the job.”

The CERT team, like others around the State, fills a need that became apparent after the September 11, 2001 event. It prompted government officials to increase opportunities for citizens to become an integral part of protecting the Homeland and supporting first responders who might become overwhelmed by the demand for emergency services in a disaster.

To this end, the CERT team trains volunteers on everything from light first aid and how to “rehab” fire fighters battling wildfires to traffic control and assisting at emergency shelters—skills needed to assist first responders and help neighbors when disaster strikes. As an active partner with the Guadalupe County Office of Emergency Management and the Alamo Area Citizen Corps, the CERT is activated when needed by local emergency officials—in Guadalupe County as well as elsewhere within the region.

Everyone is welcome to take the 20-hour basic training course whether or not they become  CERT volunteers. You don’t have to have an EMS background to join the CERT because there are all kinds of jobs that need to be done in an emergency situation.

If you’re interested in joining the CERT team, call the Guadalupe County Office of Emergency Management at 830-303-9702.

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