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EDITORIAL: Large-Scale and Smaller Disasters Increasingly Call for Shared Responsibility by Everyone

For good reason, most of us are not trained to share the responsibility of responding to an emergency.

There's often little to no choice but to take responsibility for yourself in an emergency.

After all, in almost any emergency, victims and bystanders are the first to render assistance.

However, as a rule, all too many of us never look beyond calling 911 during an emergency.

For good reason, most of us are not trained to share the responsibility of responding to an emergency.

But on any given day of the week, and especially during a natural disaster, sharing the responsibility for emergency preparedness is critical.

Since 2014 the Monongalia County Health Department has offered a Community Emergency Response Training (CERT) course. The CERT course is free and is set for May 5-6. Anyone interested in the training can register at

What the CERT course does is ask: Can you survive a disaster and ensure your family's and neighbor's safety when 911 cannot answer the call immediately?

If 9,000 people dial 911 within an hour of each other, you will be waiting for emergency responders. Which raises an even more critical question: How long can you wait?

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends everyone be prepared to wait up to 72 hours without assistance.

FEMA developed the CERT course in light of natural and manmade disasters that overwhelmed local and state networks of emergency responders. Training includes basic disaster response skills, light search and rescue, team organization and disaster medical operations.

Basic disaster response skills and emergency preparedness take many forms. From first aid to factoring how much water is needed per person per day are the kinds of things you want to know ... before a disaster.

In the worst case scenarios, power outages, lack of clean water and inadequate shelter pose the greatest concerns, which become greater if there's a medical emergency.

These concerns are not seasonal, either, and nowhere in our region is immune from disasters.

We encourage our readers to ensure they have an adequate supply of bottled water, have an alternative heating system, a fire extinguisher, a first aid kit and so on.

With every disaster or emergency, we learn new lessons. But the most important one is responding to a large-scale disaster is a responsibility that has to be shared by government, nonprofits and the private sector. But even more importantly by individuals and neighborhoods.

There are often no road signs to guide you to safety.

But there are some primary steps every one of us can take to weather any disaster.

For info on the CERT course contact Joseph Klass, at


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