The strength of any community during a disaster is in its people, a fact recognized by professional first responders across the country who rely on teams of trained community members for everything from disaster field reports to traffic control.
Mammoth Lakes is no different and beginning next week, a new round of Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training kicks off, with an introduction to the training on Thursday, Oct. 3 at the Best Western Conference Room from 6-7:30 p.m.
Three all-day Saturday sessions will follow, beginning on Oct. 19.
According to the Mammoth’s CERT coordinator, Mammoth Lakes Police Department Sgt. Marc Moscowicz, Mammoth has a active group of about 30 CERT team members right now—a good showing for a small town, but not nearly enough should a real disaster hit the town.
“The best thing about having a group of trained citizens is that in times of an emergency, they do not become a part of the problem,” he said, echoing Mammoth orthopedic surgeon Dr. Mike Karch’s words from two weeks ago, where Karch trained many of the hospital’s medical staff in some a mass casualty session during the 9/11 anniversary week.
“They will have their gear ready, they have the tools to do what needs to be done when they get a call,” he said.
“They can also train their neighbors and they know how we work, how the police and fire and public health department (these three entities each have a member on the advisory board of the CERT team) work and that really helps us out in a disaster,” he said.
CERT team members might be assigned to do damage assessments, staff a shelter and/or set up an emergency operations facility, among other duties, he said.
The information session is the evening of Thursday, Oct. 3, with three sessions to follow on three Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Oct. 19, Oct. 26 and Nov. 2, he said.
To qualify, you must attend all three session, he said. Identification cards and emergency gear will be issued after the training.
CERT training is a valuable resource, but Moscowitz said the funding for the training in the future is uncertain and urged interested individuals to contact him if they cannot attend the training but might wish to donate to training more community members.
“We got a donation from the half Marathon group and we are doing fund raising but seed money from the Town of Mammoth Lakes and the grant from the public health department we used to set this program up are gone,” he said. “We welcome any help anyone can give.”
CERT team members meet once a month every month, on the third Monday of the month, at 6 p.m., he said.
Contact Sgt. Marc Moscowitz at 760-914-1880 for more information or to make a donation.