As an effort to increase community awareness and improve lines of communication in case a catastrophe hits the city, Wixom residents and workers are encouraged to volunteer for the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program slated for Monday, March 14.
To launch the program, community members will be trained to assist police and fire personnel.
“It makes communities stronger and far more resilient,” said Public Safety Director Clarence Goodlein. “We supply information and those interested walk away with a better understanding of how to keep their families and neighbors safe.”
The team will learn functions that range from directing traffic at an intersection to getting water to people during a state of emergency, such as a power outage or tornado.
“It’s designed for anyone and by having people who live and work here as part of the team, it provides assistance in case of severe weather or a large-scale evacuation or even providing assistance at special downtown events if we need extra help,” said Fire Chief Jeff Roberts, who oversees CERT training.
Volunteers will receive training in basic first aid, including CPR, and get basic information on natural and man-made disasters. According to Goodlein, they will learn rudimentary skills such as how to operate a fire extinguisher, or perform CPR while waiting for EMTs to arrive at a scene, and how to assist police and fire personnel during full-scale emergencies.
The CERT will have a point person in each subdivision to bring the communities together and assist in responding to a disaster.
The goal is to have all hands on deck during any disaster and resonates from the 1950s-1970s era, the peak of the Cold War. After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the program was introduced at the behest of President George W. Bush.
“The program is based on a national model after the president thought we were ill-prepared for a catastrophic event,” Roberts said.
The bulk of the program costs are paid via a grant from the U.S. Fire Administration and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Other communities that have launched the program include Commerce Township, Walled Lake, and Novi.
“It’s based on the premise: ‘The greatest good for the greatest number,’ and focuses on preparedness,” Roberts said.
Each team member will receive a kit including a hard hat, first aid materials, basic tools and an identification card. They will perform duties that don’t require technical skills, but which free up fire, police, and building officials.
Roberts said he hopes to attract about 12 volunteers to a training class. To date, only three have enrolled.
“A disaster will be simulated at the end so they get an idea of what their role would be,” Goodlein said.
A typical field exercise could consist of assisting in a structural collapse, finding a disabled person, or answering calls during an emergency.
Classes will be held every Monday, beginning March 14, for six weeks from 6 to 10 p.m., culminating in a field exercise held on a Saturday.