October 21, 2014

FEMA course to train locals for CERT team

By John Fischer|Staff writer
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STANDISH TOWNSHIP —Shortly after Hurricane Katrina ripped through the South, displacing people from the homes they’ve lived in all their lives, Fulton Sheen, a State Representative, decided to help with relief efforts in Mississippi. Beginning July 16, he’ll be at the River of Life Fellowship in Standish Township, teaching residents how to lend a hand in disaster relief efforts in a series of lessons, using his experience.

Sheen is the director of Isaiah 58:12, a faith-based non-profit organization with over four years of disaster relief experience and many Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) certified volunteers. He says while volunteering after Katrina, he was made aware of the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program, which aims to create an army of trained volunteers to assist professionals when disaster strikes.

“I had all my volunteers (in Isaiah 58:12) get certified through the course,” Sheen said. He added he was later approached to take the trainers’ course so he could instruct others, which is what he travels the country doing now and will do at River of Life Fellowship.

Sheen says the CERT course teaches volunteers to work in unison with professional emergency response entities for any imaginable scenario including natural disasters, pandemics, epidemics and terrorist attacks.

“They’ll (trainees) be trained in search and rescue, building assessment, first aid, minor triage and other areas,” Sheen said. “The training will allow the volunteers to assess situations for professionals beforehand.”

He says the class — which costs $25 — requires 20 hours of training, which will be covered over a three-day span from July 16–18. See below chart for class schedules.

He also says the first day will revolve around introduction to the course and preparedness, while the second day focuses on fire suppression and triage taught in accordance with local firefighter and emergency medical transportation (EMT) authorities. The final day, Sheen says, is a review day where a mock disaster is setup for the volunteers to practice.

The course offers the same training for disasters in all areas of the country to prepare volunteers for any disaster whether it’s on a local, state or national level, says Sheen. Recently, Sheen says he worked on disaster relief after the Kalamazoo River flooded and severe storms caused his home county of Allegan to be declared a disaster zone.

“This (CERT teams) is one those partnerships — between the government and citizen groups — that actually works,” he said. “We’re (Isaiah 58:12) helping to make people prepared to help with disasters instead of becoming victims.”

Sheen says even though the program is administered through churches, it is mostly a secular training course.

“About 95-percent of the course is licensed material,” he said. “It’s just explained in a church sense.”

He added after the course is completed and residents become CERT certified, a list is turned over to the head CERT official for future training like mock disasters and coordination for major events to raise awareness.

“It’s something that really engages people personally and helps a community,” Sheen said. “I’m looking forward to the class and getting people trained.”

To sign up for the class, call 269-692-2753.

For more information on Isaiah 58:12 and its mission, visit www.Isaiah5812.org.

To learn more about Sheen, visit www.FultonSheen.us.

The class schedule is as follows:

July 16: 6 p.m. - 10 p.m.

July 17: 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.

July 18: 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.

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