Missouri fire department to conduct CERT training program

Branson Fire & Rescue out of Branson, Missouri, announced on Wednesday that it will present a Community Emergency Response Team training program in April to improve community disaster readiness.

The fire department will hold the eight-week training on Tuesday nights starting on April 8 at its Joint Emergency Training Center in the Factory Merchants Mall property. The training sessions will take place between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.

CERT training concentrates on community member preparedness to help in times of disaster, such as flooding, tornadoes and man-made incidents. After a disaster occurs, emergency response agencies like police, fire and ambulance crews can be overwhelmed with calls for help and unable to meet the high volume of demand for services.

Community members trained to be a part of CERT can provide immediate help in their neighborhood until emergency responders arrive.

Branson has used community CERT members at large events, local disasters and even deployed a team of 12 citizens to Joplin following the devastating tornado in that community.

"The CERT program focuses on teaching community members basis skills related to disaster responses such as fire and rescue operations, search and rescue, disaster psychology, team organization, and disaster preparedness," Capt. Paul Harkins, the coordinator of the fire department's CERT program, said.

The program is available for free to local community members.