Imagine a scenario where you are driving on Highway 4 and come across a car accident where a person has a life-threatening injury and is bleeding. Do you know the proper steps needed to stop or control the bleeding?
Community Emergency Response Team, also known as CERT, offers an all-hazards and safe training program available in Hood County and Cresson. The course is designed to help individuals protect themselves, their families, neighbors and neighborhoods in the event of an emergency.
The Hood County 20-hour course is taught by husband-and-wife team Mike Brewer and Sheila Castleberry, who decided to restart the CERT program in Hood County two years ago.
“I found CERT through the Sheriff’s Posse, when one of the guys mentioned he was going to take CERT training at Cresson,” Brewer said. “A few of them said Hood County no longer had their CERT program, so Sheila and I volunteered to start it up again in Hood County.”
The CERT program recently completed its six-day spring course in March, with 24 people earning their CERT foundation certification. After receiving their certification, approximately 18 applicants wanted to apply to join the Hood County CERT team.
“One of our mottos is to train and retain. We want to train people,” Brewer said.
Normally, CERT training is only offered once a year, but as interest grows, Brewer said they will try to run another course “relatively soon.”
“CERT training is like health insurance,” he said. “You know you need it. You know you have to pay for it. You hope you never use it. That’s what CERT is.”
Working together as instructors gives Brewer and Castleberry an activity to do together and a way for them to give back to the community.
“Being able to volunteer, being able to train and take care of yourself and others is the boost. You either have to learn how to do it or teach others, so that’s what we do,” Brewer said. “You have to do something to give back and I think everyone would tell you that’s why they’re in the band – that’s why they’re leaders because giving back, volunteering is the thing to do.”
Whether putting out a fire, providing first aid, preparing for a natural disaster, or demonstrating search and rescue, the CERT program teaches individuals that their knowledge can make a difference.
“Just before our last EOC (Emergency Operations Center) meeting, there was a motorcycle accident on Highway 51 North heading into town and one of the ladies who came to class was one of the first. She knew what to do and what not to do,” Brewer said.
He also talked about the time a motorcyclist had an accident with a truck, but a gentleman a few cars behind saw the accident, pulled over and knew what to do.
“He stuck his finger in this guy’s leg, pinched the femoral artery and saved him from dying – that’s why I do what I do,” Brewer said. “There are two things you can’t live without: air and blood, and you only have three minutes, so if you’re the first one there and you stop the bleeding, then there’s better chances (that person will survive). That should be enough for anyone to say, “I can do this”.
Brewer said sometimes students in the class will be overwhelmed with the exercise, especially if they make a major mistake.
“That’s where you screw up. That’s where you learn,” he said. is to identify what people can and cannot do – to help them with what they cannot do and to help them grow with what they can do.”
He said the most rewarding aspect of training is when a “light bulb” goes on in a student’s mind and they realize, “Hey, I can do this.”
“By using a fire extinguisher, you get people who have never even picked one up and then learn how to use one and why to use one; these are the moments,” he said. “Being aware, being able to take care of ourselves, our family, the neighborhood and the community, that can be everyone’s goal. If you only save one person, then you are doing well.