CERT grads recognized; more sought

WINDER - Unbeknownst to many, there was a full-scale explosion recently at the Northeast Georgia Regional Airport near Winder.

Or, at least, it looked that way.

Fire not included.

The May 18 disaster simulation capped what officials called another successful class for Barrow's Community Emergency Response Team. Nine grads were recognized for their efforts - which, in addition to the disaster drill, included eight weeks of classes - by the Auburn City Council this month.

"This class, like the ones before it, did a good job," said CERT president Bob Richardson. In the drill, "students worked alongside current team members in using what they have learned in real-life situations."

At the airport, CERT graduates performed light search and rescue, triage, basic medical treatment and communication exercises - skills that could come in handy in the event of a real catastrophe, said Barrow County Fire Department spokesman Lt. Scott Dakin.

Commonly known as CERT, the group of trained citizen volunteers act as the first line of defense at the outset of disaster. The bigger the CERT, the better, officials say.

To join, citizens must take initial classes once a week at the Winder Fire Department for a total of eight weeks. Once aboard the CERT, members meet the third Tuesday of each month and host training classes twice a year. Joining is free.

The inaugural CERT program in Barrow concluded in June 2006 with six graduates. The goal of the program is to offer - eventually - three courses a year to better educate and prepare residents.

Leaders of the CERT program are continuously looking for more participants, Richardson said.

For information regarding the Barrow County CERT team, call 770-307-2987 or e-mail barrow_cert@windstream.net.