With hurricane season just around the corner, Ridgefield’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) will host classes beginning Monday, May 15.

To fulfill the 20-hour program requirement for residents age 16 and older, there will be four weeknight classes and one Saturday classes.

“Our numbers are growing,” said First Selectman Rudy Marconi. “It’s great to have so many volunteers because the more people we have who know what to do in an emergency, the better off our families, friends and community will be.”

The function of CERT is to assist others in their neighborhood or workplace following a major disaster when professional responders are not immediately available to meet the demand for service.  

After training, CERT students are better prepared to take care of themselves and their community.  

The 20-hour FEMA-approved course includes training in disaster preparedness, medical operations, light search and rescue, fire suppression, team organization and disaster psychology.

Ridgefield CERTs are unique in that trained team members actually work in the EOC in a number of key positions including Damage Assessment, a critical function Identifying passable roads or those in need of clearing after storms.  Also part of the EOC is the Public Information Office made up of CERT volunteers who provide critical information to the public and also man the phone lines so the community can talk to a live person with questions or concerns.  During storms, these volunteers fielded hundreds of calls.  

“We couldn’t operate a sophisticated emergency response without CERT volunteers,” said Marconi. “They are a tremendous asset to our town.”

Classes will be held at Yanity Gym, the town’s emergency operations center. The four weekday classes are 6:30-9:30 p.m. Monday, May 15; Wednesday, May 17; Monday, May 22; and Wednesday, May 24 (includes graduation).

The Saturday, May 20, class will run 8:00 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Residents interested in signing up should contact karen.omeara@priceline.com and provide a full name, complete mailing address and contact phone numbers (home, cell, work) as well as an email address.