Whitehouse Fire Chief Madison Johnson reported on the progress of the Community Emergency Response Team or CERT for which two informational meetings as well as a CPR and first aid training have been held.
Though he previously believed the team would be the first of its kind in the county, Johnson has since been informed a CERT team already exists in Smith County.
Members of the Smith County team contacted Johnson and have been of assistance particularly at the Saturday, Jan. 27, meeting of the Whitehouse based group. Smith County CERT Chief Charles Dogden and Assistant Chief Kenneth Hicks, along with a couple of members, attended the meeting and answered many questions from local candidates to the CERT team.
“We have direction now and we have some guidance,” Johnson said.
The current team in Smith County will become the north division and once members are certified and ready to assist, the team based in Whitehouse will become the south division, according to Johnson.
“We did elect a CERT chief and a CERT assistant chief,” Johnson stated. “They are Will Whitehouse as our chief-elect and Maria Johnson.”
The chief and assistant chief-elect for what will eventually become the south division of Smith County CERT are now responsible for the team going forward though Johnson will still assist.
The basic CERT class is being scheduled and when the two-day course is completed, members will be certified and the south division of the Smith County CERT will be ready to assist in emergency situations. Volunteers will also need to learn National Incident Management System (NIMS).
“At first, as we’re increasing membership, we’ll probably try to have a basic CERT course every three or four months,” Johnson explained.”That way as we get a pocket of new people we can put them through it, but they can still have an active role.”
“There are so many different roles for so many different individuals and that’s why many people can have an active role with different talents and abilities,” Johnson stated. “We’ve got a 92-year-old man who is a Ham [amateur radio] operator. He’s going to know about communications so he is going to be a wealth of information.”
The next meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. Saturday, March 3, at The REC. Any adult or even high school aged young adult interested is invited to attend the meeting.
“Anyone interested is more than welcome, Johnson said.”We’re still in very early stages. Even if you’re just interested, come see what it’s about.”