By Tamas Mondovics

The Big Bend Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), LLC, a FEMA supported and directed organization, which serves residents in Apollo Beach, Gibsonton, Riverview, and other nearby communities are now gearing up for a busy summer season.

In harmony with its Motto; “Do the Most Good for the Most People” the 52-member team of dedicated volunteers that make up the group was formed at the start of the year and is focused on being ready in the event of a disaster where first responders are unable to respond.

“We focus on being prepared to help our families, our neighbors, and our communities that include Covington Park, Waterset and Kings Lake, after any disaster,” said Big Bend CERT program coordinator Dale Peery.

Team activities and training of each member is coordinated and supervised by the Hillsborough County Office Of Emergency Management and as a non profit 501 C(3) volunteer organization it is designed to complement professional Fire and Police organizations in disaster situations where uniformed fire, rescue, and medical services are overwhelmed.
“Each member of our team is trained in a number of areas such as life saving medical treatment, fire fighting, light search and rescue, emergency communications, disaster preparedness and disaster psychology, just to name a few,” Peery said, but added that he hopes to see more local support.

“The mission of the Big Bend CERT Program is to harness the power of every individual through education, training, and volunteer service,” he said.

With focus on protecting their families and neighborhoods first, local CERT teams are appropriately called NERT or Neighborhood Emergency Response Team, which has joined forces with the local neighborhood watch program.

While membership is strictly voluntary, open to all area residents and requires no annual dues, all CERT members must pass Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) sponsored CERT training classes.

The Big Bend CERT team meets the second Monday of each month (Jan-Oct) at 7:00 pm at the Covington Park Clubhouse, 6806 Covington Garden Dr., in Apollo Beach.


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