The Huron County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) announced it will create a community emergency response team (CERT) for the Willard area, similar to the one that exists in the northern part of the county.
The Willard CERT will offer volunteer opportunities for area residents to assist the EMA in matters, such as helping after strong storms with debris management, volunteer coordination, donations management and bulk distribution of needed supplies and other actives as the needs arise.
The willing volunteers also will help with local projects like siren testing, community events and in supporting local public safety when needed.
CERT is modeled after a program created by the Federal EMA (FEMA) to provide localized help immediately after earthquakes in California. Through training in disaster preparedness, volunteers help with behind-the-scenes activities and assistance directly provided to residents in need.
In recent years, the Huron County CERT group has assisted elderly and disabled residents with debris clean-up, provided support for shelters, warming centers and cooling stations and provided safety personnel at community events.
Currently a team is based out of Norwalk, which meets for monthly meetings at the EMA offices. However, since the program was only based out of Norwalk, it wasn’t long before 9-1-1 coordinator Tacy Bond said the agency saw the need and desire for a CERT to be based out of Willard as well.
“We’ve had a few people down in Willard say they were interested,” Bond said, adding that EMA realized those in the southern part of the county may have a difficult time making it to the more northern meetings.
The first of Willard’s meetings was at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
“It really helps out,” Bond said. “The CERT team has helped with Ottawa County after the flooding and they basically help first-responders.”
Any Huron County resident now will have two opportunities to participate in CERT training and response. The team will continue to meet at the EMA building in Norwalk on the fourth Thursday evening of most months, but an additional training session in Willard has being added. The EMA office is located behind the Huron County Sheriff’s Office on Shady Lane Drive.
The Willard sessions will be held at 7 p.m. on the third Wednesday of the month at the Willard fire station, 425 Fort Ball Road. Both sites are open to the public and anyone interested is encouraged to attend.
The Huron County CERT is a part of North Coast CERT, a two-county effort shared with Ottawa County. More information is available at the team website, www.northcoastcert.com, or its Facebook page, North Coast CERT. Anyone with questions may call the EMA at 419-663-5772.
Below is a list of upcoming trainings at each site:
Feb. 28 — Ohio mortuary response by the Ohio Funeral Directors’ Association
March 28 — Stop-the-Bleed training by ProMedica Hospital
April 25 — The New Landscape — Bay County Florida after Hurricane Michael
May 23 — Agriculture’s plan for disasters
Sept. 26 — Critical incident stress management
Oct. 24 — Social media in disasters and emergencies
Nov. 21 — What to do with all this stuff? Donations after the storm
Today — Welcome. CERT orientation and operations
March 20 — Assessing damage in your community
April 17 — Clean-up after the storm: The gift called debris
Sept. 18 — Hazardous materials in damaged neighborhoods and homes
Oct. 16 — Coordinating and using the local cavalry