Prepare your community for a disaster with team emergency training

This is the last day of September, and that means National Preparedness Month will soon be over.

But there's still time to make sure you have a plan in case of an emergency.

On Tuesday, in part one of Cindi’s story on emergency preparedness, she discussed how to prepare your family in the event of a disaster.

On Wednesday, in part two, she showed how community groups and businesses can get involved.

Luckily, disasters don't happen that often, but ask anyone in the Crumstown or Nappanee area, and they will assure you that they do happen. We may not be as prone to the more large scale disasters like hurricanes or earthquakes, but we have our share of potentially dangerous events.

"We do have flooding. We have snow events, we have blizzards, ice storms. Definitely tornadoes are our biggest thing. And we are in the 50-mile range of Cook Nuclear Plant, so there is a hazard if there would be a, something happen up there," said Mike Jacobs of St. Joseph County Emergency Management.

Safety is top priority for Mortenson Construction. They had hundreds of employees working out in the elements for months building the new St. Joseph Regional Medical Center.

They realized the need for some specialized safety training, and formed a community emergency response team, or CERT team.

"Having citizens ready to help out other citizens is an enormous benefit," said Brent Bohan of Mortenson Construction. "Because you never know when you're going to be in a situation that may require community or citizen involvement until the authorities, the big red truck, gets there to help take care of things."

The CERT team acts as the first responders in a disaster until the emergency personnel arrive. Any group can form a team: neighborhoods, church groups, and even businesses like Mortenson.

Residents of the Wedgewood Subdivision, after suffering from the 2001 tornadoes, formed the first CERT team in St. Joseph County, and have since formed a second team.

The training is 21 hours, split up into different classes.

"You go through everything from basic first aid to cribbing, to light search and rescue, to even the psychology of helping individuals, what stresses they may be going through, and how to talk to them and how to calm them down," said Jacobs.

The training is free through your county emergency management agency, and the knowledge and experience gained is invaluable.

You receive a backpack filled with emergency supplies after going through the class. It has the basic essentials of dressings and bandages, and even a hard hat and a vest so that people would understand that you've actually been trained to do light search and rescue.

But CERT teams and disaster kits are just part of being prepared for an emergency. You should have a plan for your family to stay in contact if you are apart. Check out part one of Cindi’s story by clicking on the link below to see how you can create an emergency kit for your home.

Also, stay informed of not only the latest developments in an emergency, but also of the best ways to keep yourself safe.

Check out the links below for more information on ways to prepare for an emergency.

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