First CERT group
created on WWC campus
By: Kristi Spurgeon
A group of eight Walla Walla College faculty, staff, and students recently became the college’s first Community Emergency Response Team.
The CERT program is designed to educate people about disaster preparedness for hazards that may impact their area and train them to help their immediate community while also supplementing emergency responders when necessary.
“By having an emergency response team on campus, Walla Walla College is better prepared to face crisis,” says Matt Heinrich, chemical hygiene officer and campus CERT organizer. “Even if a major catastrophe doesn’t hit Walla Walla College during our lifetime, it can’t be a bad thing to have people trained in First Aid and CPR scattered throughout the campus.”
CERT classes are taught by community emergency responders and employees of the Walla Walla County Emergency Management Division. Held over a six-week period, the classes included disaster preparedness, fire suppression, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations, including American Red Cross certification in First Aid and CPR. Training concluded with a disaster simulation exercise.
“Should the need arise, I hope the Walla Walla College CERT members will be able to take care of the needs of the college, but also be good neighbors to our community and help them as well,” says Heinrich.
There are 44 CERT teams in Washington State and four teams of 15 to 20 people each in Walla Walla County. “Other than Walla Walla College, there are two other universities with certified CERT programs – the University of Washington and Bellevue Community College, says Diane Dyer, CERT coordinator for Walla Walla County.
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The CERT concept was developed and implemented by the Los Angeles City Fire Department in 1985 after a large earthquake underscored the threat of a major disaster and confirmed the need for trained civilians. In 1994, the Federal Emergency Management Agency began promoting the program nationwide.
If you would like to get more information about the CERT program or to be involved in the next WWC training, contact Matt Heinrich at 527-2148.