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Community Evergency ResponseTeam

Community Emergency Response Team -
Here When We Need It!

By Carrie Switzer

With Jeep Safari crowds behind us, Moab gears up in April for an event that promises to draw 500 people involved in disaster assistance through the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) network.
The event is a disaster exercise to be held in Moab over the weekend of April 8 and 9. While offering training to participants from around the state of Utah, the event also offers an opportunity for the general public to learn more about its local Citizen Corps.

“We’ve always had a Department of Homeland Security,” said Saina, Grand County coordinator of CERT. “It just wasn’t a household word until after 9-11.”

Saina said the concept of CERT came from events during and following an earthquake in Mexico that trapped an estimated 800 people.

“It’s not an uncommon thing for people to want to help during a rescue,” she said. “During that disaster, 100 people died trying to save others.”

One of the definitions of a disaster — as opposed to an accident — is that more people need help than government or emergency services can take care of. A recent and local example is this year’s flooding of St. George.

“Houses were collapsing and there was nothing anyone could do,” Saina said. “The government can’t be everywhere, especially in rural areas.”

Grand County has held about three CERT trainings a year for the past three years. About 70 people have either taken one class or completed the training, Saina said, and she sends out 125 newsletters to those who have shown an interest in the program.

The training covers the basics of having and using a 72-hour kit (CERT recommends having three kits – for home, office and car), fire suppression, medical bandaging and back-board carrying, and light search and rescue. Saina said the fire training teaches what kind of fire can be put out with an extinguisher and when to get the fire depratment involved.

“If you’ve got people scattered around Moab who can know enough to provide some assistance and not get hurt, then it can be valuable,” she said.

Moab has all of the ingredients for potential disaster, according to Saina, including the river, canyons, flash flood and fire potential. When an orchard burned on Williams Way the Moab Fire Department was “totally tapped out,” she said. The County Building has had two bomb threats, there have been two gas explosions, and a runaway truck.

“In a disaster you need people who can make reports, keep track of people and keep people back,” she said. CERT people are trained to do that.”

CERT members also helped a family while waiting for emergency personnel to find their drowned boy.
“There’s not much you can do there except sit with people,” she said. “CERT can certainly do that.”
Members can also help during parades.

“It takes 24 people to do a parade,” she said of traffic enforcers. “We’re not EMTs and we’re not firefighters, but we have the basic training to keep ourselves safe and maybe stay safe while rescuing someone else.”

On April 8 and 9 CERT members from around the state will gather for an event called “A Weapons of Mass Destruction Disaster Exercise.” Saina put together a brochure to assist visitors with their stay, including restaurants and churches, and found venues on Center Street and at the Grand County Senior Center. The brochure will also invite visitors to take advantage of guided tours and trips while in Moab.

“We have the facilities to host this kind of event and I’m hoping people stick around and enjoy Moab while they’re here,” Saina said. “This could bring a quarter of a million dollars into the community.”
For more information about CERT, and upcoming training, contact Saina at 259-9463.

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