If you always wanted to learn how to respond to an emergency, here’s a free course for you

Virginia Beach Community Emergency Response Team members during a past training (Southside Daily photo/Courtesy of Virginia Beach CERT)
Virginia Beach Community Emergency Response Team members during a past training (Southside Daily photo/Courtesy of Virginia Beach CERT)

VIRGINIA BEACH — The city’s Office of Emergency Management will be having a free Community Emergency Response Team course starting Sept. 4.

The five-week course (two days a week) runs through Oct. 6.

The course will educate residents about disaster preparedness, especially those that might impact the area they live. They’ll be trained in basic disaster response skills such as fire safety and suppression, light search and rescue, team organization, disaster medical operations, and disaster psychology, according to a news release from the city.

Most classes will be at the Fire Training Center, 927 S. Birdneck Road.

Using the training learned in the classroom and during exercises, CERT members can assist others in their neighborhood or workplace following an event when professional responders are not immediately available to help.

Those who go through CERT training have a better understanding of the potential threats to their home, workplace and community and can take the right steps to lessen the effects of these hazards on themselves, their homes or workplace, organizers said.

If a disaster happens that overwhelms local response capability, CERT members can apply their training to give critical support to their family, loved ones, neighbors or associates in their immediate area until help arrives. When help does arrive, VBCERT members provide useful information to responders and support their efforts, as directed, at the disaster site.

Information and registration are available on the VBCERT website or by calling Cookie Ketchum at 757-385-2914 or Douglas Duggan at 757-416-8782.

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John Mangalonzo (john@localvoicemedia.com) is the managing editor of Local Voice Media’s Virginia papers – WYDaily (Williamsburg), Southside Daily (Virginia Beach) and HNNDaily (Hampton-Newport News). Before coming to Local Voice, John was the senior content editor of The Bellingham Herald, a McClatchy newspaper in Washington state. Previously, he served as city editor/content strategist for USA Today Network newsrooms in St. George and Cedar City, Utah. John started his professional journalism career shortly after graduating from Lyceum of The Philippines University in 1990. As a rookie reporter for a national newspaper in Manila that year, John was assigned to cover four of the most dangerous cities in Metro Manila. Later that year, John was transferred to cover the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines. He spent the latter part of 1990 to early 1992 embedded with troopers in the southern Philippines as they fought with communist rebels and Muslim extremists. His U.S. journalism career includes reporting and editing stints for newspapers and other media outlets in New York City, California, Texas, Iowa, Utah, Colorado and Washington state.