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November 18, 2009 > CERT gets certified

CERT gets certified

By Shavon Walker

Union City Council officially recognized the city's Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) as an official, volunteer force with designated by-laws on November 10.

CERT is present in almost every city. Union City CERT was founded in May 2001. The goal was to create a well-trained, civilian, emergency volunteer force to help the city and anyone within its boundaries during disasters. CERT volunteers can manage utilities, extinguish small fires, provide immediate basic medical aid, search for and rescue victims safely and create effective, organized groups of CERT members and spontaneous volunteers.

Reorganization and formalization of CERT in Union City was conceived in early October 2008. By December 15, 2008, five goals were created to help CERT continue to be a viable and effective program. Recognition of CERT is the penultimate goal.

CERT will now have an all-volunteer citizen Board of Directors, according to their new by-laws. Fire Chief Carlos Rodriguez and City Manager Larry Cheeves will appoint the first board members.

General CERT membership remains available subject to the following: the applicant must be at least 18 years old, pass an interview, have no felony convictions within five years of application and be willing to wear the CERT uniform during training and special events. Members should also be residents of Union City. Initially, there is 20 hours' training over several sessions. Courses will be available quarterly.

Members are expected to attend all CERT meetings. Membership is forfeited automatically if anyone misses three consecutive meetings for no valid reason or fails to attend at least 75 percent of scheduled meetings in a 12-month period.

With the recognition of CERT, first responders such as fire, police and medical departments will have a little more help in the field. Instead of focusing their resources on evacuation or power outages, they can direct their attention to treatment of serious injuries, fighting large fires and crack down on crime in emergency situations. CERT will provide aid and stability until professional help arrives.

The next CERT classes are scheduled for Spring 2010. For more information about CERT and membership, call Fire Administration on (510) 675-5470 or visit www.unioncity.org/fire/CERT.html.

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