Officers aim to enhance disaster response with CERT program

By GABRIEL GOODWIN
Sunday Times Newspapers

ALLEN PARK — Two police officers brought disaster preparation to the area Tuesday with the creation of an Allen Park/Melvindale Community Emergency Response Team program.

Allen Park Police Lt. Christopher Egan presented the program at the city council meeting Tuesday and said the purpose of the program is to give people the tools necessary to assist in a disaster situation.

“I knew there was an interest by the residents because a lot of them tried to start a CERT program in Allen Park, but it just wasn’t feasible,” he said. “Now the right resources are available, so it seemed like the time to put this program together. This program is the most cost-effective and simplest answer for those who want to help.”

CERT members will receive Federal Emergency Management Agency-certified training, and Egan said its members are trained to be knowledgeable enough to provide immediate assistance to friends and neighbors without placing themselves in unnecessary danger. Members will receive training in fire safety, search and rescue, and first aid.

He said the members will be called to help control traffic, aid with some fire suppression, and “essentially become the eyes and ears of the police department during special events.”

Egan will be the coordinator for the Allen Park CERT program. He worked with Melvindale Police Cpl. Rolando Hinojosa, who oversees the Melvindale CERT program, to bring the program to Allen Park. The Melvindale CERT program has been operating for about 14 years and has its own emergency vehicle and equipment, which he said helped “tremendously” cut costs to start the program in the city.

“The startup cost for this program is very small, but the future benefits are great,” Egan said. “We should be able to enhance the resources available to our residents during an emergency event.”

The Melvindale CERT program has teamed up with the American Red Cross in the past to aid tornado victims in Dundee and has worked with Melvindale and Detroit police departments to evacuate the area around the Marathon Oil refinery after an explosion.

The program is open to Melvindale and Allen Park residents, both officers said, but anyone who wants to be part of the CERT team is welcome to apply.

“Don’t let anything limit you from applying,” Hinojosa said. “We have openings for a lot of different talents. We can team the right person with the right job and welcome everyone to be a part of this program.”

Applications are available at the Allen Park City Clerk’s Office, the Allen Park Police Department, 16850 Southfield Road, or the Melvindale Police Department, 3100 Oakwood Blvd. Anyone with questions can contact Egan at cegan@allenparkpolice.org or Hinjosa at RHinojosa@gmail.com.

Training for the program will begin at 7 p.m. Jan. 9 at the Melvindale Civic Arena, 4300 S. Dearborn St., and continue Thursdays through the end of February.

(Gabriel Goodwin can be reached at ggoodwin@bewickpublications.com.)

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