Front Row (L-R) Shelby Valentine, Bob Sims, Levi Wade, Rosa Lee Enoch, Tara Sheppard, Kristina Lowe, Wyatt Simonton; Back Row (L-R) Rick Sawyer (Instructor), Jeffrey Salsbury, Amy Sims, Ken Pettry, Cindy Wyer, Michael Farnsworth, Richard Enoch, Lottie Sheppard, Roger Sheppard, Robert Lowe, Bo Wriston (Instructor & Wirt County Chapter Head)

Elizabeth, W.Va. - The Wirt County Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) wrapped up it's latest basic training class on Thursday July 26, 2012, graduating 16 new members.

The CERT Program educates people about disaster preparedness for hazards that may impact their area and trains them in basic disaster response skills such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations. Using the training learned in the classroom and during exercises, CERT members can assist others in their neighborhood or workplace following an event when professional responders are not immediately available to help.

Started by the Los Angeles City Fire Department (LAFD) in 1985, CERT has been adopted and expanded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Emergency Management Institute (EMI), and National Fire Academy to communities throughout the United States. Today, Los Angeles CERT has more than 30,000 members alone. Nationally, over 1,100 communities have active CERT programs.

Wirt County CERT is an affiliate of the larger Mid-Ohio Valley CERT program, spearheaded by the Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department. Wirt County CERT meets once per month, with many more opportunities for training throughout the Mid-Ohio Valley also available. The Mid-Ohio Valley CERT program has chapters in Wood, Wirt, Ritchie, Pleasants, Calhoun and Roane counties.

During the remainder of 2012, Wirt County CERT members will be concentrating their activities on basic disaster search and rescue techniques, the Project Lifesaver search program, Disaster Assessment Team (DAT) training, Weather Spotter training, Amateur Radio Technician certifications, Global Positioning System (GPS) training, basic CPR and First Aid certifications, and on-line National Incident Management System (NIMS) training. Members of Wirt County CERT will also be participating in numerous statewide, regional, and local disaster and preparedness drills.

Locally, Wirt County CERT will be active at the Wirt County Fair, providing traffic control for Wirt County High School home football games, handing out preparedness materials at the Black Walnut Festival in Spencer, and supporting other community organizations and events with logistical and operational support.

Wirt County CERT has a recruitment goal for 2012 to grow the program to 50 members, and another class will be scheduled before the end of the year. "As the recent Derecho event and State of Emergency showed, CERT teams can be invaluable resources to local communities. Many of our current class graduates volunteered during the event, and decided to take their involvement one step further by becoming active members of the CERT program.

I am especially pleased that we have five teens on our team now, ready to serve their schools and the community", states Wirt County Chapter Leader Bo Wriston. "Wirt County CERT is here to promote public safety preparedness, enabling us as team members to have the proper training, skills, and knowledge to help our families, friends, and neighbors during emergencies either small or large. It is about connecting all of us together and exemplifies the fundamental American tenant of being thy brother's keeper."

The next Wirt County CERT meeting will be Tuesday, August 14, 2012, 6:30PM, at the Coplin Clinic in Elizabeth. Anyone interested in becoming a member or in learning more about CERT is invited to attend.

For further information on Wirt County CERT, contact Wirt County Office of Emergency Services Director Bo Wriston at 304-629-3735, or via email at wirtcooes@gmail.com

Additional information about the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional CERT program may be found online at http://cert-mov-wv.org

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