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CERT Training Prepares Midvale Citizens to Assist in Emergencies

May 05, 2016 01:38PM ● Published by Amanda Butler

By Amanda Butler | amanda@mycityjournals.com 

Midvale - Several Midvale residents graduated from the city’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training program in March. Participants learned about fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, disaster medical operations and psychological impacts from a disaster. 

This spring’s CERT basic training class was held for three hours each Thursday night from March 3 through March 25 at Midvale City Hall. The course was sponsored by the Midvale Emergency Manager’s office and provided by the Unified Fire Authority.

“I would like Midvale to be the model city in the state for emergency management and community resilience on every level of community culture,” Jesse Valenzuela, Emergency Manager for Midvale said.

Valenzuela, who has a professional background as a firefighter and arson investigator, as well as extensive experience working for the Department of Homeland Security, wanted to create a high-quality CERT program as part of Midvale’s overall emergency management program. 

The classes were taught by experienced professional firefighters and paramedics. Each week, the CERT trainees learned new skills, including triage, first aid, rescue methods, search techniques and fire extinguisher use. 

As part of their training, CERT members received a disaster preparedness kit that included first aid gear, a vest, work gloves, a helmet and other personal protective equipment.

At the end of the course, program participants took a final exam, followed by a live multi-casualty disaster simulation that tested the practical skills they learned during their training. 

Upon successfully completing the course, the trainees received a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recognized certificate of completion. Program graduates were encouraged to enhance their education by attending continuing education programs offered by the city.

“My goal when I got grant funding from the state was to try and build a cadre of trained CERT people a little differently,” Valenzuela said. “I wanted to make this more of a semi-professional volunteer. I wanted some individuals that were pretty much clearly committed, and knew what they were doing.”

Valenzuela estimated that 80 people have been through the CERT training during the two and a half years he has been with the city. He would like to get 150 to 200 people trained.

After receiving classroom and practical training, CERT members are able to help others in their neighborhood or workplace following an event when professional responders are not immediately available to help. Trained CERT members are able to direct untrained volunteers during the initial phase of an emergency. 

CERT members also are encouraged to support emergency response agencies by taking a more active role in emergency preparedness projects in their community, as well as assisting with community events.

“One complaint I heard from people was that once they got their training, they never do anything,” Valenzuela said. “I wanted to eliminate that. I got together with the police and suggested using the CERT members to assist us at parades and then do park patrols during the concert series. They really stand out in the park at night.”

Classes are held in the spring and fall, though accommodations can be made for large groups. The course cost is $30.00 per registrant and reimbursement is available for Midvale residents. For more information, contact Jesse Valenzuela at 801-567-7269 or jessev@midvale.com. 

Registration is also available online at http://www.unifiedfire.org/services/registration/default.asp?e=6&t=68486.65, and pre-payment is not required. 

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