The team will focus efforts of emergency preparedness planning and public safety from the WCSO’s Mobile Command Center at events such as the Reno Balloon Races and the Reno Air Races. The CERT, a division of WCSO Citizen Corps, specializes in disaster preparation and aiding first responders during emergencies.
Citizen Corps Program Director Betsy Hambleton said the near flood earlier this year and the multiple fires in Reno at the end of 2011 and beginning of 2012 were instances when CERT aided families affected by the disasters. Hambleton said the team will be informing the public throughout September how to be prepared in the event of any natural disaster emergency.
“The biggest advantage of being prepared for emergencies is you reduce the anxiety that inevitably comes,” Hambleton said Friday afternoon. “That anxiety can cause poor decisions to be made in the midst of an emergency, and having a plan and an emergency kit for your immediate family and pet can really help improve some of the decisions that will have to be made.
Hambleton said all Washoe County residents should take advantage of Washoe County’s Emergency Management website and services at 5195 Spectrum Blvd. in Reno. She said the lists of items to efficiently pack inside a survival kit and possible evacuation routes for the county are all available from the Regional Emergency Services Department.
In addition to the outreach for emergency preparedness, CERT will also be advocating for a free academy, beginning Sept. 19. The CERT Academy provides residents with the information they need to help save lives and reduce trauma in the event of an emergency.
CERT Academy training includes disaster preparedness, emergency medical techniques, fire safety, search and rescue, disaster psychology, and terrorism awareness education.
The CERT Academy offers a total of 24 hours of training during six sessions over two consecutive weekends. The training is free and trainees are not required to become a Citizen Corps volunteer to participate.
“It is so important to have a plan for these situations that you never know when they will happen,” Hambleton said. “Having access to the training the Emergency Management Department offers, and the detailed information available online, will no doubt make a difference in an emergency.”
To sign up for the Academy, call 325-6927 or 325-6928, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about Washoe County’s Emergency Management services, visit http://www.washoecounty.us/em.
About 200 volunteers currently serve in the Citizen Corps administered by WCSO. The Corps consists of five teams: the Sheriff’s Mobile Auxiliary Response Team, Citizens Homeland Security Council, Community Emergency Response Team and the Animal Rescue Team.
During 2012, Citizen Corps volunteers donated more than 18,000 hours of service to their community, saving the Sheriff’s Office $388,000 in staff time. In 2010, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recognized the achievements of Washoe County’s Citizen Corps by awarding it the National Citizen Corps Achievement Awards' Outstanding Citizen Corps Council Award for a council serving a population less than 750,000.
For more information about the Washoe County Citizen Corps, visit http://www.wcsovolunteer.org/.