Free CERT training aims to prepare communities for emergencies large and small

A free training program is addressing how people can use duct tape in an emergency. (Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — Whether it’s a big disaster or someone gets hurt around the house, knowing how best to respond might affect who lives or dies. Many communities offer free training to ensure their residents are prepared for the worst.

The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program teaches people how to help in various emergency situations until first responders arrive.

“We teach things like duct tape first aid,” says Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Volunteer Liaison Jeffery Katz.

Duct tape might prove useful in mass casualty situations when the goal is to access and stabilize the conditions of as many people as possible as quickly as possible.

CERT training also can translate to more routine, everyday situations.

“If a bookcase falls on somebody and you’re not strong enough to pick it up, how are you going to move that bookcase?” Katz says, adding that CERT teaches people about levers and cribbing.

The training can be beneficial for everyone, Katz adds.

“All ages, all physical conditions, all occupations — docstors, lawyers, house wives, house husbands,” he says.

Many communities hold CERT classes twice a year in the spring and fall. Classes usually meet one night a week for seven or eight weeks.

CERT classes begin in Alexandria, Virginia, Thursday, Sept. 4. Classes begin in Fairfax County next week. Montgomery County, Maryland next holds CERT classes Oct. 8.

Find local programs available by ZIP code on the CERT website.

CERT programs are sponsored by The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

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