PHOENIX — In the past month, Arizonans have watched hurricanes and earthquakes devastate communities around the world. Now, some citizens are preparing for a disaster closer to home.
The Daisy Mountain Fire Department is one of several organizations offering a Community Emergency Response Training (CERT) class. The biannual Daisy Mountain program helps train civilians to safely respond to disaster situations.
“This class is bigger than usual probably because of all the natural disasters this month,” said Paul Schickel, Daisy Mountain engineer. “We don’t teach specifically about hurricanes, but we focus on Arizona-related disasters like flooding, fires and (highway) accidents.”
Jasper Dampier signed up for the class because he lives in Black Canyon City, where he believes there’s not a huge emergency response team in place.
“We’re kinda isolated there, especially with the I-17 getting closed down all the time,” Dampier said. “I felt like it (CERT) would be something extra to help my personal little community out. There’s not much help when it comes to disasters out there.”
The CERT program was created through FEMA and requires participants to attend more than 20 hours of instruction. At Daisy Mountain’s course the students receive written materials and learn through hands-on instruction.
“As far as disasters, everybody needs to be prepared,” said Alissa Haenel, CERT team member. “It’s happening all over the world. It’s a daily event and we see it on the news everyday. And we can prepare, even just our home, to help our neighbors and community.”
The program not only covers how to be prepared in case of a disaster, but how to respond to one. CERT team members instruct the students on how to extinguish fires, perform basic extractions and even assess injuries to victims.
“They (hurricanes) reminded me,” said Janet Scott of Anthem. “I looked at what we had in stock and that was a wake up call. We’ve just gotten so accustomed to peaceful living that we have nothing prepared.”
The CERT training course at Daisy Mountain is free and available to citizens of all ages. The program is offered twice a year and the next one is expected to be open sometime in the spring, officials said.
(Video by Tynin Fries/Cronkite News)