Residents learn to help in disasters
by MARIANNE THOMASSON
Following a disaster, 911 goes crazy,” said John Reidelbach, chairman of the Newnan-Coweta Community Emergency Response Team — CERT.
Reidelback addressed the Newnan Kiwanis Club at its weekly luncheon Tuesday at Newnan Country Club.
“Who here is ready for an F-5 tornado?” he asked. “After a major disaster, first responders who provide fire and medical services will not be able to meet the demand for these services.
“Factors such as the number of victims, communication failures and road blockages will prevent people from getting emergency services they have come to expect at a moment’s notice through 911,” he continued. “Everyone will have to rely on each other for help in order to meet their life-saving and life-sustaining needs.”
With CERT training, volunteers take classes so they know what they’re doing. During Katrina, there were plenty of volunteers and many of them died while trying to help.
“We’re trying to train people by neighborhoods,” Reidelbach said. “We have eight in Lake Redwine alone.”
CERT volunteers aren’t limited to weather-related disasters. “We have trains that go through here with bad stuff every day,” he said.
The CERT training program is 25 hours long, seven sessions from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Volunteers are trained in using different fire extinguishers for small fires, medical first aid, triage, tagging victims for first responders and removing victims to a medical arena. They are provided with a backpack full of the necessary tools for their work — even including a wrench for cutting off gas at a home.
“You’ll be trained to help at a car wreck if you arrive before a first responder. If someone loses everything like they did in Oklahoma, you’ll know where to direct him to appropriate help centers,” he said.
In addition to CERT, a sister organization, “Coweta Cares,” provides emergency lodging, clothing and food when necessary, such as when a home burns. The Red Cross provided these services before the local chapter was closed and was consolidated with others in LaGrange. Since the move, Red Cross services sometimes have been lacking, and Coweta Cares fills the gaps.
The next class is scheduled for this fall. Interested people may go to NewnanCowetaCert.org for more information.