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CERT program aids community

By Caitlin Rickard crickard@lebanondemocrat.com • Dec 17, 2015 at 5:35 PM

A fairly new way Lebanon is helping to keep the public safe is through the emergency services unit’s Community Emergency Response Team, or CERT Program.

Lebanon’s Public Safety Coordinator Mike Justice said the program is a federally recognized volunteer agency.

“It puts community members in a place so that they can respond in certain capacities like light search and rescue or any type of disaster situation and it’s implemented to assist nationwide,” Justice said.

For example, Justice said if there were a tornado in Knoxville, CERT members could then be activated to report in and assist.

Locally, CERT members volunteer their time and are used for every special event at no cost to the city, Justice said.

Justice said CERT has monthly meetings and members are always actively participating.

“There’s always a member doing a certain amount of time once a week, and each one has certain responsibilities,” Justice said. “Each member is assigned a task, like one might be assigned to the command post and handle things there.”

Justice said the program started training last year and currently has eight members that have completed training.

“It’s a pretty lengthy training and they’re trained up to the national standard for the program,” Justice said. “It takes awhile to get someone trained.”

According to Justice, William Glover is one of the few CERT trainers in the area and the program is now looking into training groups.

“We started with a core group, and now William is going to go out and try to get churches or civic organizations interested in starting training, too,” Justice said. “We’re going to start with churches and businesses and any group that wants to be trained can be trained.”

Justice said anybody can volunteer to be a CERT member but would have to complete the required training and would also be subject to a background check because they are exposed to law enforcement.

Additionally, a new Teen CERT program has also just been implemented recently for ages 14-18, according to Justice.

“So far we’ve got four members in the teen program,” Justice said. “The training is a little more watered down and they’re limited in some of the things they can do, but it’s all about helping with logistics.”

Those looking to get involved or join either CERT program can contact Justice at 615-642-0564 or Glover at 615-499-1561.

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