Tonawanda News — When disaster strikes, there are two types of people ... those who are prepared, and those who aren’t.
And as far as the Town of Tonawanda is concerned, the more people in the former category, the better.
Toward that goal, the town will again offer its free Community Emergency Response Team training starting Oct. 15, said town paramedic Robert Lutz, coordinator of CERT.
“There has to be a level of citizen preparedness,” Lutz said. “Every disaster is local. The federal government is not going to be on your doorstep to take over by day two. Neither will the state, for that matter.
“That’s what this program does. If they leave and never come back, but have the knowledge to be better prepared at all ... we’ve done our job. That’s one less for us to worry about.”
The nine-class course will run from 6 to 9 p.m. Mondays, with a fire safety session from 9 a.m. to noon Oct. 27 and a Saturday course review and simulated disaster training exercise Dec. 1. Classes will meet at the town Fire Training Tower classroom at 70 Fire Tower Drive off Two Mile Creek Road.
Participants must attend all sessions, which include both academic and hands-on instruction. They must be at least 16 years old; there is no upper age limit. The course is also open to residents of the City of Tonawanda, Kenmore and Grand Island.
The Town of Tonawanda was one of the first communities in Western New York to start a local CERT program. Since it began in 2004, nearly 400 people have been trained, Lutz said. That’s 400 people — and their families — that might not be overloading town police or paramedics in the case of an emergency.
John Moffat, chairperson of Tonawanda CERT, became interested in the program after a 2007 expo entitled “No More Surprises,” at Hoover Middle School, a reaction to the 2006 October storm. Within a year, he went through the training, and was elected chairperson in 2010.