The Town of West Hartford’s first group of CERT volunteers has completed basic training, and another training session is beginning in October.
By Ronni Newton
West Hartford now has 35 additional volunteers trained and ready to assist first responders during emergency situations as well as large-scale town events.
Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Coordinator Robert McCue, a retired assistant police chief and the deputy manager of the town’s Office of Emergency Management, said on Sept. 18, 2021, a cohort of 35 individuals officially completed the first CERT Basic Training Course, a 20-plus-hour program that included sessions on emergency preparedness, first aid, use of the Incident Command System (ICS), fire extinguisher operation, disaster psychology, and light search and rescue.
Some classes met virtually, while others were in person.
CERT members play the key role of “force multipliers,” McCue said, taking on critically important tasks during situations when the police and fire department members are otherwise engaged.
“The team also helps educate the public on ways to prepare for emergencies,” McCue said.
McCue had hoped to have 30 people volunteer for the initial training, and was pleased to have exceeded that goal with the 35 who have completed the first course and will form the nucleus as the CERT program, which was reformed this spring after a 10-year hiatus, becomes an important part of West Hartford’s culture.
CERT now has a total of 63 active members, McCue said.
“The team is made up of volunteers from all parts of town with a wide variety of backgrounds,” he said, and they have already been engaged in several different activities, committing hundreds of volunteer hours. “The team has assisted during the recent Tropical Storm Henri, Tropical Storm Fred, UniteCT events, COVID and flu vaccination clinics, and the Children’s Concerts at Eisenhower Park,” said McCue.
Another training class will begin this month, and will be held on Saturdays. Training will include two full-day and one half-day session on Saturday, Oct. 16, Oct. 23, and Oct. 30.
CERT training is open to anyone age 18 or up, who either lives, works, or is a student in West Hartford.
“The training is designed for volunteers at any skill level and physical ability,” McCue said.
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