Massachusetts town recruiting volunteers for CERT program

First responders in Amherst, Massachusetts, are recruiting volunteers for the town's first Community Emergency Response Team training program.

The first training session for the six- to eight-week program is set to begin on April 9 at the University of Massachusetts police station. The training will cover topics such as basic damage assessment, first aid and CPR, Gazettenet.com reports.

Tim Nelson, the fire chief of Amherst, said the residents who train as part of CERT will be adjunct to the professional emergency responders and work under the incident command system.

"It's a way for citizens to help in times of incidents and disasters," Nelson said, according to Gazettenet.com.

Michael Williamson, an emergency medical technician, is the recruiter and an instructor for the volunteers. He said CERT will be a great resource and asset for the town.

"It's neighbors helping neighbors, but doing it in a safe, trained way," Williamson said, according to Gazettenet.com. "My goal is to make this easy and have everyone succeed. That's what I'm going to try hard for."

The first 25 volunteers who take the course will get a backpack with a radio and other equipment worth a value of approximately $100, which is paid for through a Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency grant.

If the training is successful, it may expand to other nearby communities so they can serve as partners during emergency responses, Gazettenet.com reports.