Fort Lauderdale CERT program equips members for medical response

Fort Lauderdale's CERT program equips its participants with medical training that allows them to assist with the response to a biological threat through support of Point Of Dispensing (POD) sites, as included in the city's plan.

"Our CERT program trains our CERT members in the POD workshop," Freddy Zelaya, coordinator of Fort Lauderdale CERT, said in an interview with BioPrepWatch. "In this workshop, CERT members get an understanding of the mass prophylaxis distribution, and how we will distribute to their families and them first so they can help the community."

The POD sites would distribute treatment or preventative medication in the form of vaccines, tablets, pills or capsules. The sites would ideally reduce the number of people likely to get infected, offer educational information regarding the disease or toxin, and access the Strategic National Stockpile when necessary.

The health department would take up the lead in this effort, but additional agencies and the CERT team would offer crucial support.

While POD training would be used in a biological situation, Fort Lauderdale's CERT program does not include any specific biological response training.

"We discuss the potential outbreaks in the POD workshop, but not training focused on biological threats or attacks," Zelaya said.

Additional medical training areas included in the CERT program are safety and sanitation, basic first aid, and rapid treatment techniques.

CERT members could potentially use these skills on an as-needed basis to help the community through the crisis.