The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

County offering emergency training course


September 18, 2018

CLOVIS — Wanted: 20 team players to train early next month for an “all-risk, all-hazard” course by the Clovis/Curry County Office of Emergency Management.

The 20-hour course is open free of charge to volunteers 18 and over, “designed to help you protect yourself, your family, your neighbors and your neighborhood in an emergency situation,” according to a news release.

The course is billed as “a positive and realistic approach to emergency and disaster situations where citizens may initially be on their own and their actions can make a difference,” allowing them to respond “effectively and efficiently” in such situations, said the release from Emergency Management Director Dan Heerding.

Organizers aren’t specifically expecting any such emergencies, but “it’s getting our community prepared,” Heerding said.

This is the first year the course is offered to adults and the third for high schoolers, both groups of which will train together Oct. 5 - 8 at the Clovis High School lecture hall. The program started locally with CHS’ Air Force Junior ROTC program and has expanded with federal grants since then, continuing to broaden its pool of participants.

Those first years, aided by AFJROTC instructor Alan Fields, were “to get a solid foundation,” Heerding said.

“We both feel we’re solid now,” he continued. “This year we opened it up to any student in the high school that wants to join us.”

Heerding estimated some 35 students have gone through the program in the past two years, but that population is “always in a state of flux” due to graduation and moves. Supported now by more grant money and equipment, organizers are ready to extend the corps of civilian volunteers to those beyond the 12th grade. The limit this year is for 20 adults, but there’s no cap on how many high schoolers can enroll.

The training is identical for both groups, covering skills such as basic medical aid, managing utilities and extinguishing small fires, searching for and rescuing victims safely, and collecting disaster intelligence to aid first responders. The Community Emergency Response Team course also instructs trainees on how to “treat the three medical killers by opening airways, controlling bleeding, and treating for shock,” said the release.

Additionally, CERT members will be able to assist first responders during community events such as the July 4 Smoke on the Water fireworks display and during the Curry County Fair.

“They’re an extra set of eyes. ... We work them basically as a multiplier,” Heerding said.

The first course is also followed by “biannual refresher drills,” said the release. Those trained join a nationwide network of CERT members, who are called upon in emergency situations that exceed the scope of the everyday.

“I know I’ve got colleagues all over the country that use the teams quite regularly,” he said. “A good example is the hurricanes in the Carolinas right now, and last year we had (Hurricane Harvey) in Houston. (CERT members) are the types of folks who will go check on their neighbors, so the first responders can focus on other priorities.”

Heerding said Friday that several people already signed up.

All are eligible, but if you’re a “lone-wolf type person” then it might not be up your alley, Heerding added.

“We integrate with our first responders, so they’ve got to be able to integrate with that aspect,” he said. “We’re looking for someone who when they come out they’re willing to work. We want a team player.”


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