UPPER MARLBORO – In their final meeting of 2018, the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) of Greater Upper Marlboro met on Dec. 8 at Town Hall to discuss new training programs to pursue for the new year.
Established in 2016 with only four members initially, the Greater Upper Marlboro CERT is a volunteer agency which seeks to train its members to be better prepared to face emergencies as they happen – anything from a terrorist attack to a passerby choking on a hot dog.
There at least five similar agencies in Prince George’s County – including one for the whole of the county itself – and 2,700 local CERT programs nationwide, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the government agency that created it.
Participation in CERTs, including Upper Marlboro’s, is volunteer-driven and go-at-your-own-pace, but by no means is it dispassionate, insists Team Secretary Alonzo Joy.
“So many of our members, on almost a bi-weekly basis, are out doing some type of training when we’re not out doing outreach with the community,” said Joy. Early in Saturday’s meeting, Joy and the rest of the team congratulated two members for completing a challenge posted on FEMA’s website back in September.
Afterward, the focus of the discussion shifted to the team’s future. Members of the CERT jotted down ideas for how to move the group forward into 2019. There were suggestions for ham radio training, more extensive CPR and first aid exercises and even boat training for the absolute worst-case flooding scenarios.
In a sign of the times, there were even calls for an increase in active assailant training, already a core feature of CERT.
“We have taken, as a team, active shooter awareness training, but we can always use that more,” said Joy. “Because it happens more frequently, we want to make sure our members stay peak in understanding the theme of ‘Run, Hide, Fight.’ So one of the things they’ve thought about is ‘Let’s have that training again.’
But the suggestion that garnered the most discussion was Anita Cox’s suggestion for enhanced “shelter-in-place” training, suggesting that it may be a better option in some evacuation scenarios than wandering through the packed streets of the Washington metropolitan area.
“You’d be surprised at what kicks in, in an emergency situation,” Cox said. “You’d be surprised at what you think you forgot, and you just heard a little tidbit that will really just carry you through the situation.”
The next Greater Upper Marlboro CERT meeting will take place on Jan.12. It will be made clear which ideas made the final cut.