Williamson County, Franklin County start CERT training program

From tornadoes to recent flooding events, many people in the Local 6 area are thinking about preparing for natural disasters. But what about after the danger passes?

Emergency management agencies from two local counties are partnering up to train people, so they’re ready when disaster strikes again.

Williamson County Emergency Management Coordinator Kelly Urhahn says when severe weather hits, like the strong winds in Franklin County, Illinois, last month  or the flooding soaking much of the state, people want to help but many don’t know how.

"Earthquakes, severe weather, really cold weather, snowstorms: You name it, we have it here. And, our main goal is to try and prepare our citizens as much as we possibly can,” said Urhahn.

They’re showing people how to prepare first response kits. Everything inside the CERT backpacks is something that will help in an emergency, and it’s all stuff you can keep ready at home. Urhahn pulls out a mask to protect against smoke, reflective vests to be seen in the dark, and even a wrench that can break out window or turn off the gas in your home.

"You know, what better way to be prepared than to know how to shut off your gas and how to do light rescue at your home, or just basic first aid?" she said.

When you come in for training, you’ll get a backpack to use in class. The packs hold items like hard hats, helping making sure that no matter what disaster hits, you’re prepared and staying safe.

After the training course is over, people can help out on the county’s CERT teams in real emergencies.

"This could very well save someone’s life," Urhahn said.

The CERT training classes start Thursday night, but they’ll accept attendees until next week. The class runs from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursdays inside the Williamson County Administration building in Marion, Illinois, on the second floor. The CERT training is free and open to members of the public ages 18 and up.

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