TAMPA - Community Emergency Response Teams are composed of regular, everyday citizens who want to be part of the solution, should catastrophe occur.
Free CERT training courses are offered to teach individuals how to care for themselves, their families and the greater community. For those who pass the test, CERT provides an official badge that certifies their readiness to help others in an emergency, and a backpack with emergency supplies.
CERT members learn how to gauge the structural soundness of damaged buildings, search for victims, reduce fire hazards, put out small fires and lift heavy objects off people.
Basic first aid training includes assessing injury severity, caring for wounds, splinting fractures and treating burns.
Neighborhoods, businesses and schools may form their own trained CERT teams to improve outcomes should disaster strike.
Members of Greater Tampa CERT from Sun City Center, Temple Terrace, Plant City, Brandon, Bloomingdale-Riverview and areas of Tampa gathered recently to discuss organizational changes, hurricane-preparedness strategies and future training.
Because CERT relies on ham radios in emergencies, more amateur radio operators are needed, and free courses were announced at the meeting.
The Hillsborough County Amateur Radio Emergency Service and Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service will offer an introductory technician-class license and a general-class license upgrade course from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 10 and 17, at WMNF, 88.5 FM Community Radio, 1210 E. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Tampa.
A test that costs $14 will be administered at the end of the second class.
Classes are free, and classroom materials are available for a refundable deposit of $20. Books are optional. The technician class book may be purchased for $19.95; the upgrade course book is $29.95.
All fees will be collected at the first class and participants must bring a government-issued, photo identification card.
People may obtain radio licenses without owning radios. If attendees do have radios, they should bring them and their programming cables and manuals to class.
For more information, visit www.hcaresraces.org. To register, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For information about the next basic CERT training class, visit Greater Tampa Community Response Team on Facebook.
Send stories of community interest to Barbara Routen at Neighbors@tampabay.rr.com.