Rockwall County CERT volunteers ready for emergency

Apply online. Basic Training set for May 2 & 9

ROCKWALL, TX (March 19 2015) The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) of Rockwall County invites all looking to help make their community safer, stronger and better prepared for disasters to join its growing team of volunteers trained in assisting others and helping those in distress during a major emergency situation.

From left are CERT members Dennis Dayman, Jennifer Jeffus, Mary Kay Starnes, Kim Williams, Stan Jeffus and Rockwall Fire Inspector Paul Ayres.

Since its formation in 2005, Rockwall CERT has continued to have a positive impact in the lives of families throughout Rockwall County and has recently become much more active in helping with missing person searches, including one such case earlier this year involving a missing Royce City teen.

At around 10 p.m. on a cold night in early January, the Royse City Police Department called upon the 15-member crew making up Rockwall CERT to aid in a search for a 13-year-old girl who had been reported missing. The team responded quickly and assembled multiple supplies into its CERT truck – a tub of coffee, snacks and ice for those involved in the search as well as for the family of the missing girl – before heading out onto the scene.

After around a four hour search, two CERT members were able to locate the teen and report her location back to police, fire andEMS, who brought her back safe and sound to her family.

Rockwall Fire Inspector Paul Ayres, who also works closely with Rockwall CERT, said the positive outcome not only lifted the spirits of CERT members involved in the search, but also led to some very encouraging feedback from the family.

“I was actually surprised as normally we don’t get that feedback, but one of the family members posted to our Facebook page thanking us for coming out and turning what could’ve been a bad day into a better one,” Ayres said. “That’s a really good thing for our volunteers, too, when they’re out there for four hours in the cold searching. Not only do they find the person but they get that positive feedback from the family.”

Ayres said providing comfort to those experiencing tragic events or disasters such as a house fire or a missing loved one is just one of the many perks of being a part of the Rockwall CERT family.

“Going out to these bad scenes, it’s really nice to see the reactions of the families when we have a positive outcome,” Ayres said. “When the members are able to put that blanket over someone who’s cold or give shoes to someone who had to run out of their burning house barefooted – they really enjoy that.”

Rockwall CERT remains very active in major community events such as the Concerts by the Lake, the Rubber Duck Regatta, 4th of July celebrations and Rockwall Founders Day festivities.

“During all of those types of events the CERT crew will be out there in case there is a missing child or minor first aid is needed,” Ayres said.

Rockwall CERT members must be at least 18 of years of age. Those interested in joining the team are encouraged to visit and click the link to the CERT Signup Form. Once the form is submitted, the applicant will receive more information on upcoming Basic CERT courses.

The next basic training course will be held May 2 and May 9. The course teaches basic emergency skills such as CPR, first aid and fire suppression, and runs from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. both Saturdays. You can also register for the course at that web address.

By Austin Wells, Blue Ribbon News staff writer and reporter.

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