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Volunteers Needed for Renton's Community Emergency Response Team

The recent magnitude-6.0 earthquake in Northern California that injured more than 100 people and damaged buildings and other structures throughout the Napa Valley region is a good reminder that an earthquake or other natural disaster can happen at any time, and communities need to be prepared for when it does.

As part of the City of Renton's efforts to develop and maintain a prepared community, the city is actively recruiting volunteers to be part of the city's Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). CERT-trained individuals are able to work as part of a team in their neighborhood to meet the needs of residents after a disaster.

According to Emergency Management Director Deborah Needham, "Emergency volunteers play a critical role in disaster response, since they are often the first ones on the scene over 90 percent of the time."

CERT is a nationwide all-hazards disaster preparedness program created by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. It is also part of the national Citizens Corps program to increase preparedness through volunteerism.

CERT graduates receive 24 hours of training in fire suppression, search and rescue, first aid, disaster psychology and team organization, and participate in a disaster simulation before receiving certification. Classes are taught by fire and police department personnel along with local experts.

The fall 2014 CERT Academy begins Sept. 17, and is held at Renton Fire Station 14, 1900 Lind Avenue SW. Classes are held from 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesdays through Oct. 29, with a disaster simulation scheduled on Nov. 1.

The cost is $25 for Renton residents and $30 for non-residents. To register go to cybersignup.org or call 425-430-6700. For more information about CERT contact Mindi Mattson at 425-430-7041.

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