September 11, 2003


Miami Township Fire-Rescue to offer emergency response course—
Teaching citizens to react to disaster

Miami Township Fire-Rescue department is offering this month free courses in emergency response for anyone over the age of 14 who would like training in basic medical treatment and community organization in the case of a disaster.

The “Community Emergency Response Training” (CERT) course is designed to enable the average citizen to aid public servants, in the event they get overwhelmed, by helping others in the community and also by helping themselves, Fire Chief Colin Altman said.

In response to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the Federal Emergency Management Agency started providing funding for a nationwide citizens training program. Greene County Emergency Management Services received a $75,000 grant in June to fund 30 courses that will be taught by fire departments in almost every jurisdiction in the county, EMS Director Rosanne Anders said.

EMS officials noted the importance of citizen awareness about how to respond to emergencies, Anders said, after a tornado hit Xenia in 2000 and some people waited for hours before the first responders reached them.

“The program is designed to teach citizens how to do things without putting themselves in danger,” Anders said. “Every citizen has something they can learn from the program.”

One major focus of the course will be on organizing. Often when disasters occur, citizens want to help, but they don’t know what to do, and they end up creating even more chaos, Altman said. The training will underscore the importance of working within a structure where teams of people report to a leader for efficiency and accountability, which is similar to a coordinated search effort.

Another part of the CERT course teaches participants to manage gas and electric utilities and to put out small fires. Participants also will be trained in light search-and-rescue techniques, as well as how to administer CPR and first aid.

The course is a general all-risk, all-hazard training program, but it will be oriented toward severe weather and tornados, which this area is prone to have, Altman said. The skills participants will learn could also be applied to conditions caused by acts of terrorism, he said.

At the end of the course, participants will receive a supply kit with a helmet and reflector vest to help identify them as trained volunteers, as well as a flashlight, gloves, goggles and a first aid kit. At the end of the year Greene County will hold an appreciation dinner for those who participated in the training.

“It should be a really great program and we’re hoping people will sign up,” Altman said. “It’s really important training for everyone.”

The fire department plans to recruit participants from local churches, businesses and from Antioch College. The department has room for 50 participants for this month’s program and officials hope to have at least 20 people volunteer, Altman said. Program organizers aim to continue the training as an annual event.

Miami Township’s first CERT course starts this Monday, Sept. 15, from 6:30–9 p.m., and continues Saturdays, Sept. 20 and 27, and Oct. 4, from 10 a.m.–4 p.m.

If a participant cannot attend one of the classes, he or she may be able to take it at a nearby location. Depending on the interest generated, the township could organize a second training session before the end of the year.

Those interested should call Miami Township Fire-Rescue at 767-7842 to register by Friday, Sept. 12. Questions can also be directed to Rosanne Anders at 562-5994.

—Lauren Heaton