Michelle Hamaker
UNK public safety director, 308.865.8517

Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training will take place on the University of Nebraska at Kearney campus July 12-14, according to J.R. Reider, coordinator of South Central Nebraska CERT.
“This is the first time CERT training is being done for staff at a University of Nebraska campus,” Reider said. “While other colleges are already offering CERT training around the nation, this will be the pilot program that we hope will act as a springboard to reach colleges throughout Nebraska.”
“Disasters can strike anywhere—and college campuses aren’t immune,” Reider said. “Tornadoes, hailstorms, flashfloods, fires, blizzards or man-made disasters cause major disruptions throughout the college community, and having trained staff members and others available to help will make it safer for everyone on the campus.”
“The CERT program prepares individuals to organize their families for many types of disasters, as well as enable them to help their neighbors and be a resource to the community in times of great need, “ he said. “It’s free, high-quality training that can help save the lives of family members and the general public.”
Classes will take place on Wednesday, July 12, 8:30-5 p.m.; Thursday, July 13, 8:30-5 p.m.; and on Friday, July 14, 8:30-3 p.m. The class will take place on campus. Participants must attend all three sessions to be certified in CERT.
CERT training consists of 20 hours of classroom and practical training covering disaster preparedness, basic fire suppression, disaster triage and medical training, basic search and rescue skills, disaster psychology, personal readiness and terrorism recognition.
Each graduate is issued a backpack with basic personal protection and safety equipment valued at more than $100. Participants are trained in the use of the equipment during the class. The gear is provided free under grants from the Department of Homeland Security, Nebraska Emergency Management Agency and Two Rivers Public Health Department.  
Classes are taught by several state-certified instructors and designed to provide participants with hands-on practice as they learn the techniques. The course concludes with a full disaster exercise designed to test the students on the information they have learned throughout the course and includes “victims” who are made up to look much like people injured by a disaster.
CERT members are trained to “self-activate” in response to disasters by helping themselves, their families and neighbors to safety. Then, as requested by local authorities, team members gather at rally points and form teams to assist where needed. Normally, they work in less severely damaged areas during the first 72 hours of a disaster situation, when official resources may be limited or not available outside of the most severely damaged areas.
Further information about the CERT class is available by calling Jim Reider, South Central Nebraska CERT coordinator at 308.995.9341.  
A class for the general public will be held in Lexington on Aug. 4, 5 and 12 at Tri County Hospital Wellness Center. The class is free. Individuals can pick up applications and brochures during business hours at Two Rivers Public Health Department, 701 Fourth Ave., Ste. 1 in Holdrege, or at the Dawson County Emergency Management office at 707 North Washington in Lexington.  
Residents from throughout the area may take CERT training. Anyone 18 or older is welcome, Reider said. Applications for the class are taken on a first-come, first-served basis.
“There are only 30 seats available for the class, so I would recommend that interested individuals send their applications right away,” Reider said. Completed application forms can be mailed to the address on the form or faxed to 308.995.2234.
The CERT program is a part of the Citizens Corps, a national volunteer program dedicated to providing services in support of community, state and nation. It is a Homeland Security program, managed by the Office of Domestic Preparedness. In Nebraska, the Nebraska Volunteer Service Commission coordinates the Citizens Corps.