BEDFORD — Ron Michaud is someone you want nearby in case of an emergency or disaster. As a member of the Bedford Community Emergency Response Team, he has been taught when and how to react in case of a flood, how to administer CPR and how to help police with traffic control.
Michaud had been a member of the Goffstown CERT since 2005, and when he and his wife, Dot, moved to Bedford in 2011, he felt it was important to continue his emergency preparedness skills. Michaud helped form Bedford CERT, which began in May 2012 with a graduating class of 18.
Police Lt. Michael Bernard, who oversees the program, said Bedford CERT now has 26 members and is looking for more residents 18 and older to serve as volunteers.
“Basically not everybody is available all the time and we want to have 40 members, so in the event there’s a disaster such as a flood or an emergency we’ll have a rotating list to tap into,” said Bernard. “Anybody can apply and take the basic training, but to be a CERT member you have to be a resident.”
The first step is taking the basic training course beginning Tuesday, Sept. 24. The 20-hour, four-week course takes place on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6:30 to 9 p.m. The course is limited to 20 people and is held at the Bedford Safety Complex. The program is funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and training is free. Those taking the basic course are not obligated to join CERT.
The topics covered in basic training include fire safety, disaster medical operations such as CPR and using a automated external defibrillator or AED, search and rescue operations, terrorism, disaster simulation, emergency preparedness, an introduction to CERT, and more.
“It’s pretty interesting. It teaches you basic first aid, how to be prepared for the first 72 hours of a flood or other disaster, and terrorism and what to look for. You learn basic triage and how to treat simple wounds and cuts, and you get to blow off a fire extinguisher,” said Michaud, who serves as Bedford CERT director.Volunteers are called upon by the Bedford Police Department and assigned to an incident or town event.
“We utilize them for emergency and non-emergency activations, to search for a missing child or elderly person and controlling traffic. During a flood they go door to door, and also conduct outreach at our open house or Olde Towne Day,” said Bernard. “All are CPR and first-aid certified.”
Bedford Library Director MaryAnn Senatro, who is also a member of Bedford CERT, said she felt it was important to learn about safety at home and also at the library, which has been designated by the town as a cooling and warming center during extreme weather.
“It’s a great training even for people to know safety for themselves and their families. The first thing they tell you is to check on your family then check on your neighbors,” Senatro said.
Michaud said the team has been called to direct traffic 19 times, and has helped out during six emergencies including bad accidents, and four fires in town. Bedford is one of 27 CERT groups in the state, joining about 4,000 across the U.S., he said.
To sign up for the basic training course, contact Lt. Michael Bernard at 472-5113, ext. 340, or email to firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information and to view photos of CERT members in action, visit www.bedfordnhcert.org.Bernard and some members of CERT will give a presentation about the program at the Town Council meeting on Wednesday at 7 p.m.