California town's CERT secretary said team ready to help

Silver Valley CERT volunteers respond to emergency situations.
Silver Valley CERT volunteers respond to emergency situations. | Courtesy of Silver Valley CERT

The residents of Newberry Springs, California, have a variety of resources at their disposal in the event of an emergency situation that involves a biological outbreak or attack, including the Silver Valley Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), Kathy Ridler, the team's secretary, said.

The team of approximately 33 workers includes 13 Disaster Corps-certified responders. The rest are not fully certified, but are involved in CERT team response measures.

“The area is divided by two military bases and four communities,” Ridler said in an interview with BioPrepWatch. “The military are probably more prepared than the civilians, but we have a wonderful working relationship with the Silver Valley Unified School District that sort of serves as the glue between the government and civilian operations.

In emergency situations, CERT personnel will work with local first-response and public-health personnel to run vaccination stations when needed or provide neighborhood notifications when necessary.

“As one of the smaller CERT groups, given the land mass that we cover, we feel we are well-trained to respond to an event,” Ridler said. “I think we are fortunate that the people in our team don’t care if they’re just handing out fliers. They are game for anything.”

Ridler worked with the San Bernardino County Search and Rescue team for nearly 13 years and realized that although they were trained and able to go just about anywhere for a search, there wasn’t a program set up like CERT, so she got to work and created one.

“Through my work with the Sheriff’s Office, I connected with the San Bernardino Fire Department and learned about CERT,” Ridler said. “I don’t care what label you put on me, I want to help.”

Ridler sees potential in the Silver Valley CERT program and looks forward to training more volunteers to respond in the event of a CERT activation. “I would love to train every person to have the knowledge to help themselves and others. It’d be one less person that we’d have to help,” she said. “Knowing that we can help others makes it all worthwhile.”