VAN WERT – The Van Wert Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) is actively seeking applications for anyone interested in serving their community through volunteer work. Those interested in applying should do so at https://tinyurl.com/vwcertapp.

CERT is an official emergency preparedness program of the Van Wert County Emergency Management Agency and specializes in volunteer response to emergencies and large scale events such as house fires and traffic control for disasters and distribution centers. As a member of CERT, you can expect to receive training in basic first aid and CPR, disaster preparedness, firefighter rehabilitation, fire safety/extinguishing small fires, disaster medical operations: triage and treatment, Incident Command System, and many other areas.

Applications will be accepted until Feb. 5, 2021.

The CERT concept was developed and implemented by the Los Angeles City Fire Department in 1985. The Whittier Narrows earthquake in 1987 underscored the area-wide threat of a major disaster in California. Further, it confirmed the need for training civilians to meet their immediate needs. CERT became a national program in 1993. There are now CERT programs in all 50 states, including many tribal nations and U.S. territories. Each is unique to its community and all are essential to building a Culture of Preparedness in the United States. There are over 2,700 local CERT programs nationwide and more than 600,000 people have trained since CERT became a national program.

CERT was introduced to Van Wert County in 2018 as a part of the Emergency Management Agency.

Its Chairman, Mark Klausing, stated, “CERT has been a positive for the community in that we are able to serve our neighbors who are in need. Assisting first responders and families has become a passion of our team members and we are looking to expand our team so that we may be able to take on larger tasks put in front of us.”

Amy Schroeder, who is a co-chairman that leads the casework division of CERT said, “Working so close with the families who have just lost everything brings a new perspective to life. The gratefulness they show when they receive donations from community members they may not know always brings a smile to my face. Van Wert truly is a giving and caring community.”

Director Rick McCoy demonstrated his pleasure with the team as well.

“It may be 2 a.m. and our team is ready without hesitation. I have seen members volunteering for hours because they care deeply about the community. Their involvement in emergency preparedness within the county has been top-notch and I look forward to getting other members involved," said McCoy. “Our team has been extremely fortunate to have volunteers that have committed their time to supporting our first responders and local families.”

In 2020, CERT responded to 23 house fires, assisted 13 families after the loss of their home, provided traffic control for 23 scenes and accumulated a total of 1,079 volunteer hours. Through the graciousness of donations from the United Way and many others, CERT is able to continue its work in the community.

For more information, please visit our Facebook Page (Van Wert County CERT) or email us at vwcert18@gmail.com.

CERT is a United Way Agency.