Knowledge Replaces Fear
Nine of the 12 newly graduated members of City of Murphy CERT team were presented graduation certificates at the Dec. 4 council meeting. (Graduates, from left) Leonard Richiuso, Joseph Richiuso, Robert Kramer, Rebecca Miller, Javier Jimenez, Warren Shultz, Patricia Meaux, Margaret Malone and Dan Michel. Pictured also are (center) Mayor Scott Bradley, (back row, second from left) CERT instructor Ken Pietrasik and (back row, third from left) MFRD Fire Marshal Perry Elliott and (front row, fourth from left) CERT Coordinator, Ron Hill. (Graduates not pictured are Marshall Kelly, Galiya Kim and William Peloquin.)
“The CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) Program educates people about disaster preparedness for hazards that may impact their area and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations. Using the training learned in the classroom and during exercises, CERT members can assist others in their neighborhood or workplace following an event when professional responders are not immediately available to help. CERT members also are encouraged to support emergency response agencies by taking a more active role in emergency preparedness projects in their community.” (murphytx.org)
Training courses are held annually and on September 13, 21 people attended the first training class of 2018. Over the course of the nine week program, the group produced 12 graduates, who, on Nov. 17, were presented with graduation certificates at the City Council meeting. This is the 7th, and largest, Murphy CERT graduating class.
Following are the stories of four of those graduates. They explain a bit of who they are, why they chose to become CERT team members and how they plan on using their new found skills.
Rebecca Miller is a 51-year-old homeschool mom. She had no emergency response training prior to CERT. After reading a previous article in the Murphy Messengerabout CERT, she realized this training would add value to her life and she wanted to help the community. She said one thing that really resonated with her during training was something that Murphy Fire Rescue Department Chief Del Albright said, "Knowledge replaces fear". She adds, “It really does, and I feel that if more people got involved with the training, in class or online, that we could bring our fear-factor to lower levels and empower citizens to help themselves and not be waiting on the government to do something.” Since going through the program, she said her children have benefited because she has taught them everything she learned. She said she was able to use some of her newly acquired skills to put out a kitchen fire, “I didn’t panic. I knew what to do.” She said this training is very Murphy specific and teaches the chain of command that will be in place should an emergency occur. “This has opened my eyes to concepts I never thought of before.” She has lived in Murphy for 15 years.
Dan Michel is a 54-year-old integrated circuit layout designer. He did not have any emergency response training experience prior to CERT. He said he chose to become a CERT member because, “I wanted to give back to the community. I consider myself blessed to live where I live and have the family I have. I believe in self-sufficiency and responsibility. In case of an emergency there could be a lot of people who need help; I want to be able to help.” He said he learned to take a methodical approach to handling emergency situations as well as analyzing the situation to determine what takes precedence. He has lived in Murphy for 17 years.
Margaret Malone is a 55-year-old advertisement copywriter. She comes from a medical family and had some emergency preparedness training prior to CERT. She said she signed up for the program because it sounded interesting and she was looking for a volunteer opportunity that didn’t relate to her job. She said, “Shared responsibility and preparedness are becoming more and more important. I wanted to make myself useful.” She looks forward to using her new skills wherever she can to make a positive contribution. She hopes to also be a resource for animal care if emergencies occur. She has lived in Murphy for 18 years.
Patricia Meaux is 55 years old. She and her husband moved from Austin to Murphy in July of this year. She was looking for a way to immerse herself into the community and chose to become a CERT team member. In Austin, she was a shelter manager. The shelter provided assistance to people displaced during Hurricane Harvey. Part of her responsibilities as shelter manager was insuring that the day-to-day needs of the displaced people were being met. By becoming a CERT member she hopes to transfer the skills she used in Austin to Murphy, if the need arises.
The final day of training included taking a written test, putting out a fire with a fire extinguisher and a disaster day drill. Boy Scouts from Troop 302 participated as the “victims” during the drill. Tim Dorren, Scoutmaster of Troop 302 said, “For several of the boys participating, this was a requirement for their Emergency Preparedness merit badge, a requirement to earn their Eagle Scout rank, the highest rank in scouting.” Some of the new CERT members said that the disaster day drill was the most challenging part of the course. They value the importance of practicing their newly learned skills.
Ken Pietrasik is the City of Murphy CERT instructor and deputy coordinator (Ron Hill is the MFRD liaison and coordinator). Pietrasik graduated from the second CERT training class. He said, “What makes a successful CERT member is willingness to help others in the community; we can train you on everything else. There is a job for everyone in CERT.” There are currently 29 “active” members on the team that supports MFRD. Requirements to begin the training are to be a resident of Murphy, be at least 18 years of age and pass a background check. This is a free program. For more information, go to murphytx.org/202/Community-Emergency-Response-Team-CERT.