Emergency response training can prepare residents for disaster

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Prospect Park resident urges everyone to take advantage of Community Emergency Response Team training.

The Bridge Editor’s note: Michael McKee’s opinion piece, printed in our August issue before the Aug. 1 collapse of the 35W bridge, seems even more poignant in hindsight, given the many acts of heroism performed by citizens on that day.

I recently took advantage of the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training that I read about on a Prospect Park e-mail posting. It was an enlightening experience and a valuable lesson. I would like to briefly share my experience and some information that hopefully will encourage many Prospect Park/East River Road (PPERRIA) residents to become CERT volunteers.

CERT prepares the community to help our families and neighbors in the face of natural or man-made disasters in a safe, effective, efficient and organized way. If a disastrous event overwhelms or delays the community’s professional response, CERT members can assist others by applying their basic response and organizational skills until the first responders arrive. Our neighborhood will develop a strong partnership with emergency responders. CERT can supplement our already strong and watchful neighborhood. It can make us safer, stronger and better prepared to respond to threats of terrorism, crime, public health issues and disasters of all kinds.

The training we received was provided by highly qualified emergency personnel and took place at the Minneapolis Fire Fighters training grounds in Northeast Minneapolis. We learned about emergency preparedness, fire safety, first aid, search & rescue and terrorism — not only with personal instruction and video but also with hands-on activities on the training grounds, which is set up as a real disaster area with tons of concrete rubble, burned out buses, overturned fire trucks and buildings.

Teamwork and safety were the strongest messages. The attendees I trained with ranged in ages 16 to 66. The program is built to encourage as many people as possible to engage in aiding their communities. I was very impressed with the level of expertise and enthusiasm by all three of the trainers. This is an earnest and worthwhile effort by the city to help its citizens become better educated and more involved in helping ourselves and each other. I learned much more than I believed I would about making my home safer.

In the end, we were provided with a back-pack and some tools for disaster response.

Finally, I would like to make a plea:

There are only two CERT trained members in the PPERRIA neighborhood (now that I’ve completed my training). We all know that, should a tornado or strong straight-line winds hit our area, it would become very damaged and dangerous. Our beautiful, twisting and turning streets, the closeness of our homes, the high grade of the hill and the great amount of large trees are an ominous combination. Should something powerful tear up this area it would be difficult for emergency personnel to get through.

For more information, visit the city’s “web site”: www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/emergency or contact CERT Coordinator Susan Ude by email at susan.ude@ci.minneapolis.mn.us or by calling 612-581-9624. Susan welcomes the opportunity to speak about and discuss CERT at community meetings and functions.

The next training session is in September, and it is free. CERT does the greatest good for the greatest number.