By Natalie Morales
Enquirer staff writer
HIGHLAND HEIGHTS - Eight Campbell County residents who were trained to assist public-safety officers in disasters graduated from the Community Emergency Response Team program Saturday morning.
The federally funded program was created to form more of a partnership between emergency services and the community, which could be vital should disaster strike.
"They learn to first take care of themselves, then take care of their families and then take care of their neighborhood," said Ken Knipper, Campbell County Emergency Management director.
Team members learned about disaster preparedness, fire safety, search and rescue, team organization and injury assessment. The graduates were taught that they would most likely use their skills after a severe thunderstorm, tornado or flood.
"I feel more confident that I could respond in a calm manner if I hear about an emergency and I know who I would need to be in contact with," said Dee Loar, a trainee who lives in Bellevue.
The training included assessing a disaster scenario at the Campbell County Regional Firefighter Training Center. At the mock disaster, the team put out a fire, assessed damage to buildings and assessed fake victims' injuries.
"This is meant to be what would happen in a big event," said Capt. Mike Mauser of the Bellevue-Dayton Fire Department. "The public is going to truly be the first responders in these events, and they should be prepared."
Team members are trained only in disaster aid, not first aid, said Ron Schneider, Campbell County Emergency Management's deputy director. Emergency personnel work with the victims the team labels as most urgent.
The program requires volunteers to spend at least 20 hours in classroom training.
Campbell is one of 50 counties in Kentucky so far to receive money to begin training, Knipper said. Campbell County received $5,750, enough to train 50 to 75 people.
Each trainee gets a backpack filled with equipment they used during training and could use during a real disaster.
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