San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

SUBMITTED REPORT

The Hays County Community Emergency Response Team has been selected as one of four teams to receive an award in the national 2011 FEMA Individual and Community Preparedness Awards program.

Winners were selected in 13 categories of awards and special individual awards. Recognized in the “Outstanding Community Emergency Response Team Initiatives” category, Hays County CERT was named as one of three Honorable Mentions, with NBC Universal CERT of California recognized as the category winner. The other honorable mention recipients were Caribou CERT (ME) and Union Parish CERT (LA).

Nationally, there are more than 1,100 registered CERT organizations affiliated with state, county and community sponsors. Texas, with 103 registered CERTs, has the largest state representation in the national program.

The Awards recognize accomplishments that took place during the award period of Jan. 1, 2010 through June 1, 2011. According to FEMA, the awards “recognize the innovative practices and achievements of organizations and individuals that work to make our communities safer, stronger, and better prepared to manage any emergency situation.”

This year’s winners were selected by leaders from the National Emergency Management Association, the International Association of Emergency Managers, and FEMA. Applicants represented 36 states, as well as Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. FEMA said “Winning applications demonstrated remarkable innovation and creativity in preparing their communities.”

Since 1993 when the program was made available nationally by FEMA, communities in 28 states and Puerto Rico have conducted CERT training. The program trains volunteers to be better prepared to respond to emergency situations in their communities. When emergencies occur, CERT members give critical support to first responders, provide immediate assistance to victims, and organize spontaneous volunteers at a disaster site. CERT members can also help with non-emergency projects that help improve the safety of the community.

Hays County CERT was established by commissioners court in April 2003 and is organized under the leadership of Hays County Office of Emergency Management. An all volunteer organization, CERT includes members who receive special training that enhances the organization’s ability to support the Office of Emergency Management and county first responders — fire departments, Sheriff’s Office and EMS.

In 2006, Hays County CERT was recognized as one of the top three Teams in the United States.

Since its formation, Hays CERT has grown from a handful of volunteers to nearly 100, serving all sections of the county. It has supported a large number of emergency operations including providing rehab for firefighters in major structure and wildland fires, managed and operated shelters for hurricane victims, and assisted in searches for evidence and missing persons searches as well as assisting with special events.

Training for CERT volunteers is ongoing, with opportunities scheduled monthly. Instruction is provided by county and state emergency professionals as well as CERT leaders. For more information, visit the Hays County CERT web site at www.visitwimberley.com/cert.

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One thought on “County emergency response team earns FEMA award

  1. This is an outstanding group of folks that have been there when it counts! They all do a great job every time they respond. They take it upon themselves to train and coordinate operations taking a large portion of time from their private lives to assist this county.

    These folks have helped with everything from shelter operations in the hurricane season, to search and rescue of lost hikers. I know I can call on them 24 hours a day and get a sizable and meaningful response. Could not have gone to a better group! Good job!

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