BRANDON There are many reasons to become a member of a Federal Emergency Management Agency Community Emergency Response Team, known as CERT.
Members learn how to take care of their homes and neighborhoods after disasters.
They are trained to help first responders handle emergency situations and help the community during non-crisis events.
CERT members ran the emergency operations center at the Republican National Convention. Bloomingdale-Riverview CERT staffed a first-aid booth at Mason Dixon's Christmas Wish Fund Car Show at Gator Ford in Seffner, where they stabilized a Durant High School JROTC cadet's sprained ankle.
CERT members may take advanced training.
"I'm a CPR instructor with the Red Cross," said CERT member Dan Bartlett of Lithia, "but I always wanted to get the first-responder certification. Learning it from Tampa Fire paramedics gives me more knowledge and extra skills, like triage, that wouldn't be covered in a CPR class."
CERT member Jen Johanson of Brandon took the first-responder class to be better prepared for emergencies and to test her interest in becoming a paramedic.
Riverview resident Gretchen DelSavio enjoys the CERT camaraderie. "Everybody's very helpful; we all work together," she said. She took the advanced training "in case we get The Big One."
Darrel Sowers, 68, of Riverview took the first-responder class because "when you know more, you can help more," he said.
To join CERT, contact the Tampa Fire Training Academy, (813) 242-5410.
A training exercise for current CERT members will happen from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Jan. 12, at St. Andrews United Methodist Church, 3315 Bryan Road.
Bartlett will train participants how to use an automated external defibrillator, bag valve mask resuscitator and cardiopulmonary resuscitation mask and explain proper procedures for two-person cardio-pulmonary resuscitation.
"We've received a donation of a brand new AED for our team," said Don Maidlow, Bloomingdale-Riverview CERT coordinator, who seeks a grant writer and contributions for an emergency-equipment trailer. CERT receives no government funding.
For information or to register for training, call Maidlow, (813) 741-1328, or visit http://bloomingdaleriverviewcert.homestead.com/.