The time has never been better to join Gulfport’s Community Emergency Response Team, or CERT for short.
According to Detective Richard Grimberg, Gulfport Police Department volunteer coordinator, CERT is designed to train citizens to help the community during a disaster.
“It’s members of the community responding to emergency situations,” Grimberg said. He also stated that CERT members would potentially be called to assist during hurricanes, natural disasters and major fires.
“They would go door to door” after major catastrophes to make sure no one is inside or needs help, Grimberg said.
With a new partnership of Grimberg and Lieutenant J.D. Stone of the Gulfport Police Department, CERT is ready to renew courses and welcome new members.
“People need to know how to help themselves,” CERT member and Gulfport City Councilmember Christine Brown said at their most recent meeting last Thursday, May 19.
Gulfport police will now help manage the program, coordinate training, and look at the by-laws to make sure everything and everyone will follow proper protocol.
“So far, what I’ve seen is really good,” Stone said.
Though the police will have a heavy involvement in the program, CERT will still be under the supervision of the Gulfport Fire Department.
Grimberg wants the group to start with a round of refresher courses. Electronic defibrillator training, CPR, advanced first aid, and mission managing will be offered to prepare citizens for the upcoming 2016 hurricane season.
Lealman CERT member Weldon Burgett suggested people to watch a video on YouTube made by the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council called Project Phoenix, as well as attending the Universal Studio state-wide disaster drill in the fall.
“There are sirens, smoke; nothing but chaos,” Burgett said describing the event. “You’re moving, and it’s a full disaster drill.”
Right now, CERT consists of less than a dozen volunteers, but they are looking for more.
“We want as many as we can get,” CERT member Larry Shepherd said.