Dearborn Heights Schedules Winter 2010 Disaster Preparedness Classes

HEIGHTS — The city’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program will host a series of evening classes beginning Jan. 7.

         The Winter 2010 series of classes is limited to 30 participants, and is limited to Dearborn Heights residents and non-residents who work in the city. The classes will run from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m. Thursdays through March 4.

         Most classes will be held at the Dearborn Heights Justice Center, 25637 Michigan Ave., with a few taking place at the Dearborn Heights Fire Department, 1999 Beech Daly. There is no charge for participating in the classes.

         Prospective participants must complete and submit an application, which they can receive by contacting the city’s Emergency Manager Bob Ankrapp at (313) 277-7717, or e-mailing rankrapp@ci.dearborn-heights.mi.us.

         Additional information (including a downloadable application) can also be found on the city’s CERT Web page, which is located under the Public Safety tab of the city’s Web site: www.ci.dearborn-heights.mi.us.

         The CERT program trains and utilizes volunteer help in responding to local emergencies. The program recruits and educates volunteers about disaster preparedness — based on hazards that could impact the area — and trains them in basic disaster response skills including fire safety and suppression, light search and rescue and disaster-related medical operations.

         Using local classroom training and live exercises, CERT members are taught to deploy within their neighborhoods, providing basic disaster response services until the city’s professional emergency staff can arrive. This is particularly valuable in cases of large-scale incidents, where the demand on professional responders may overwhelm the system, or widespread damage prevents their ability to reach affected areas quickly. Once professional responders arrive on site, CERT members assist as directed.

         CERT members also have taken an active role in community service activities such as festivals and public awareness campaigns.

         “We’re looking forward to another good class,” Ankrapp said. “We’re already seeing a good bit of interest in this winter’s class. We’re pleased to see our residents taking an active role in this program. Their involvement plays a big role in helping make Dearborn Heights a safer community.”

         More than 100 residents have completed the emergency preparedness/response training since the program started in 2005, with many still participating as active members of the city’s CERT group. Dearborn Heights was among the first communities in southeast Michigan to embrace the program, which originated at the national level through the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Citizens Corps. Since then, nearly 40 other communities throughout the area have adopted the program and have begun training volunteers.