Training offers community tools to help with disaster response

Published 12:15 pm Monday, February 18, 2019

During an emergency, there’s a natural desire to help in some way. From Hurricane Florence last September, to the search for a missing toddler last month, that willingness to help others has been demonstrated time and again in Beaufort County. So how can the average citizen, with no fire, medical or search and rescue training, be of assistance during times of crisis?

A special training in Chocowinity this weekend will answer that question. Taught by Chocowinity EMS Capt. Shane Grier, the Community Emergency Response Team training is a 21-hour course that helps educate volunteers about disaster preparedness and basic disaster response skills that can be helpful during an emergency. Topics covered include fire safety, light search and rescue skills, team organization and disaster medical operations.

“It basically teaches the standard person in the community to rally and help in their neighborhood after a disaster,” said Johnny Williams, director of Fire and Emergency Management Training at Beaufort County Community College. “When we have a disaster like the hurricanes or a major fire, the fire departments and EMS units are tied up with the priorities.”

CERT is a nationwide program designed to provide support to first responders in the midst of a crisis. Having that volunteer support during emergency operations can allow first responders to focus on more complex operations.

“I know some CERT participants have been used in search parties,” Williams said. “They can help in some of the light search. We may have them do logistics or tasks on the lighter side of things. It’s something that needs to be done, but doesn’t necessarily need someone who is a trained first responder to do that.”

The course will be taught in three sessions this weekend from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

To register for the training, visit, and select Beaufort from the county location dropdown menu or contact Chocowinity EMS at 252-948-2446.