Would you be prepared?
Starting Monday, the Town of Tonawanda will be offering free Community Emergency Response Team training at the Fire Training Tower classroom at 70 Fire Tower Drive in the town. Classes take place from 6 to 9 p.m. Mondays, followed by a course review and simulated disaster training exercise Dec. 1. There will also be a fire safety session from 9 a.m. to noon Oct. 27.
When I talked last week with town paramedic Robert Lutz, coordinator of CERT, and John Moffat, chairperson of Tonawanda CERT, they both stressed that while the classes can lead to more involvement with town emergency services, no one has to become involved.
They just have to learn.
“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.”
Trainees learn about topics from putting out small fires to fire aid, and how to care for themselves, their families and their neighbors in the case of an emergency.
CERT volunteers did a lot of good during those days in October 2006, Lutz said — but their greater impact may forever remain something of a mystery.
“What we don’t know is how many people didn’t call 911 ... because they were prepared.”
For more information or to enroll for the CERT training, visit www.tonawanda.ny.us and click on the emergency services link and select CERT, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 879-6685.
Jill Keppeler is a writer for the Tonawanda News. She can be reached at email@example.com.