CERT training spring 2015

Arlington Community Emergency Response Team Class 52/53 members Brian Murphy, Kira Sweetman and Desiree Fey assist role player Tony Spadaro (a member of the 43rd class) during a mock-disaster exercise held in the spring of 2015.

Arlington’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) initiative has a new component – a training program for teens.

The “Teen CERT” program will run from Oct. 21 to Dec. 7. Although the training uses the same curriculum as adult CERT classes, it focuses on high-school students who want to make a positive difference in the community.

Kelly Chawaga, a student at Bishop O’Connell High School, is working with Arlington CERT to launch the youth-training program this fall.

“I am very excited about teenagers having the opportunity to engage in community emergency-preparedness,” Chawaga said. “I took the CERT basic training, so I could prepare myself to assist my community in a disaster and help develop the teen program.”

Since 2002, CERT has trained over 800 people who reside, work or attend school in Arlington to become part of neighborhood teams trained in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and medical operations.

The program is sponsored by the county government’s police and fire departments and Office of Emergency Management, following a Federal Emergency Management Agency curriculum.

Two adult classes began the week of Sept. 3 and will wrap up in early October.

Through classroom learning, hands-on practice and reality-based exercises, CERT members learn how to respond to manmade and natural hazards, help organize basic disaster response and promote preparedness.

For information on the program, see the Website at www.arlingtoncert.org.

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