The development and training of a grassroots group of citizens committed to responsible preparation for community emergencies is underway in Putnam County.
Following a major disaster, first responders who provide fire and medical services, will not be able to meet the demand for these services. Factors such as the large number of victims, communication failures, and road blockages may hamper access. People will have to rely on each other for help in order to meet their immediate life saving and life sustaining needs.
Members of Putnam County's Community Organizations Active in Disaster (COAD) met this week to determine the next steps needed in moving the group forward. The purpose behind the movement is to prepare in advance for any disasters.
These steps include coordinating with the existing agencies that provide emergency and other necessary services in the community as well as developing a CERT (Community Emergency Response Teams).
CERT volunteers are trained in disaster preparedness, fire suppression, basic disaster medical services, light search and rescue, team organization, and protection against terrorist threats. They act as an extension of first responder services by offering immediate help to victims until professional services arrive.
"We need people interested in taking CERT training," explained Doug Cox, DePauw University Emergency Management Director. "Volunteers are also needed to participate in National Incident Management System (NIMS). This is a three hour online course geared toward persons involved with emergency planning, response or recovery efforts."
"Taking the NIMS course is the first step in getting volunteers trained. It's easy and can be done online," reported Putnam County Emergency Manger Kim Hyten.
These courses benefit any citizen who takes them. Individuals become better prepared to respond to and cope with the aftermath of a disaster, are given a better understanding of emergency services capabilities, and of their own responsibility in preparing for a disaster.
The Putnam County COAD needs volunteers of all ages and talents. Anyone interested in learning more about the NIMS and CERT training should contact Cox at 653-5018.