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County mulling disaster response team concept

GREENVILLE — Washington County wants to organize local disaster-response teams that will be trained to respond either in their neighborhood or workplace if a disaster strikes.

Emergency management director David Burford tells the Delta Democrat Times the department is applying for grants to set up the Community Emergency Response Team units throughout the county.

The group would comprise neighborhood and civic groups and other organizations to coordinate in the event of an emergency.

Training will include basic fire and first-aid instruction and how to shut off utilities.

“The City of Greenville is going to be our pilot project for CERT,” Burford said.

Starting CERT in the city, Burford said, will be an asset to emergency management, especially given that Greenville has the largest population in the county.

“It relieves the first responders who are overwhelmed in a disaster and allows them to focus on bigger fires and more serious injuries,” he said.

Burford said once funds are approved, officials will invite community members to attend an informational session.

“Those who sign up will go through training, which will be covered by the grant, and will get a CERT kit,” Burford said.

The kits include a hard hat, work gloves and goggles.

Once the program is finalized in Greenville, Burford said it will be instituted elsewhere in the county.

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