Beginning on Friday, March 15, the Coffee County Emergency Management Agency is offering members of the community free training on how to respond in an emergency.

The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training classes are designed to empower residents in Coffee County to take care of themselves and each other in the event of some kind of disaster, according to EMA Director Allen Lendley.

“It was started after 9/11,” Lendley said of the training program. “It’s basically just to get citizens prepared to take care of themselves and their neighbors in the event something major happens – some type of disaster.”

Some of the elements taught in the class include basic first aid training, how to properly use a fire extinguisher and some “light search and rescue,” Lendley said.

This type of training is necessary for citizen safety and community vigilance, according to Lendley. He used the recent Lee County, Alabama, tornadoes that killed dozens of people as an example. During that disaster, first responders weren’t immediately able to check on every resident within a few hours – it took days for search and rescue crews to make their way out to locate missing people and identify those injured in the storms.

Having this kind of training, Lendley said, would help citizens become and remain self-sufficient should they find themselves impacted by something like a flood or a tornado.

“They say be self-sufficient for up to three days,” Lendley said. “Have enough food, water, medicine and things like that for three days in a disaster.”

Additionally, Lendley said, he’s hoping offering this training open to the public will inspire some more Coffee Countians to get involved and volunteer with the EMA or Homeland Security.

If the area residents are open to taking the training, Lendley said, they might also be interested in assisting with volunteer operations with EMA during disasters or severe weather threats.