Next week, the Kenai Peninsula Borough will hold another round of volunteer training for those who want to have the skills to step up when a natural disaster or other emergency hits the community.
Starting Monday, Dec. 2, the Borough’s Office of Emergency Management will conduct training for their Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program. The program consists of 28 hours of training over seven days and covers topics including fire suppression, light search and rescue, disaster medical treatment, disaster psychology and team organization. Jade Gamble, program manager for OEM, said that attendance at all of the sessions is required in order to complete the course, but makeup days can be scheduled for those unable to make it to all of them.
Upon completion, volunteers will receive a backpack full of response equipment and will have the opportunity to sign up to be one of the citizen responders in the event of an emergency. Gamble said that this year, for example, CERT volunteers staffed the Borough’s call center during the Swan Lake Fire, taking more than 5,000 phone calls, and helped prepare the communities of Sterling and Cooper Landing for evacuation.
“Having them at the call center was great because when people would call us looking for information on the fire, they’d be talking to their friends and neighbors rather than people from out of state,” Gamble said.
CERT volunteers also participated in a disaster and evacuation simulation in April of this year as part of Alaska Shield 2019, going door to door in a Kenai neighborhood and treating disaster victims in a Disaster Help Center.
The borough started training CERT volunteers in 2004, and Gamble said that since then they’ve trained around 600 people. Several trainings are conducted every year and in different areas of the peninsula, including Homer, Seward and Cooper Landing, so that people in every community can be properly trained in emergency response.
“Any time there’s a disaster, people want to help,” Gamble said. “This training gives people the skills to help safely and effectively without feeling like they’re getting in the way of other emergency responders.”
The training is free for volunteers and funded by the Borough. In order to sign up, go to KPB.us/emergency or call Gamble at 907-262-2097.
The CERT training will take place at the Donald E Gilman River Center, and the schedule is as follows:
Monday, Dec. 2 from 6-9 p.m.
Tuesday, Dec. 3 from 6-9 p.m.
Thursday, Dec. 5 from 6-9 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 7 from 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Tuesday, Dec. 10 from 6-9 p.m.
Thursday, Dec. 12 from 6-9 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 14 from 9 a.m.-4 p.m.