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September 24, 2007

ULM graduates its first Community Emergency Response Team class

When it comes to the safety of the students, faculty and staff at the University of Louisiana at Monroe, one cannot possibly train enough, said Wayne Brumfield, vice president for Student Affairs.

ULM graduated its first Community Emergency Response Team class (numbering 17) Thursday, Sept. 6 after partnering with Campus Compact to provide this training for faculty, staff, and students.

Of the CERT training, Brumfield said, “The university is pleased to have individuals on campus who are CERT trained and are able to instruct faculty and staff, and to partner with area agencies like the fire and police departments, the Ouachita Parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, and RSVP—the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program. We take the safety of the campus community very seriously, and we will continue to upgrade security measures to protect the health and welfare of everyone in it.”

The CERT 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, CERT members can assist others in their neighborhood or workplace in an event when professional responders are not immediately available to help. CERT members are also encouraged to support emergency response agencies by taking a more active role in related projects in their community.

The program originated in response to a mandate from Gov. Kathleen Blanco and the Louisiana Board of Regents to increase training in light of the April tragedy at Virginia Tech. CERT members participated through June and July, preparing by way of classroom training and mock drills.

Training and drills will be held on a monthly basis to assure that in time of emergency or disaster on campus, the CERT members will be ready to aid the emergency personnel in all areas.

“It’s good to have people around that can assist the police officers,” said ULM Police Chief Larry Ellerman. “We will be the first responders to an incident, and they will provide backup. It will be nice to have a team of people there already acquainted with us.” The ULM Police Department also has staff members certified as CERT trainers.

ULM police officers completed additional training with the Louisiana State Police known as "Rapid Deployment for Critical Incidents" on campus June 5.

A total of 54 individuals trained for approximately 10 hours, combining officers from various university campuses, state and city agencies, and community colleges. The idea is that participants must prepare for eventualities involving a multi-jurisdictional, multi-agency response.

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