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Group to be trained in emergency response

January 10, 2006|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

HAGERSTOWN

erinc@herald-mail.com

Soon after learning about emergency response issues surrounding Hurricane Katrina, the 34 members of this year's Leadership Hagerstown class decided to sign themselves up for emergency training.

The class will spend one weekend in April attending a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) course, learning about disaster preparedness, fire suppression, medical operations, search and rescue, disaster psychology, animals in a disaster and terrorism awareness, project committee co-chair Alan Matheny said.

"No area is immune from disaster," he said. "A community whose citizens are trained in these skills is better prepared to meet the challenges that a disaster brings."

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Linda Parrish, a Citigroup manager, said she has some knowledge of emergency response, such as CPR, but is interested in a refresher course. She anticipates learning how to operate a fire extinguisher and how to prepare herself and her family for an emergency.

"This is really basic stuff that can make a difference," Matheny said.

Leadership Hagerstown is a nonprofit program designed to develop and enhance community leadership by offering participants expanded knowledge and awareness of problems, opportunities and issues facing Hagerstown.

There is also the expectation, she said, that the Leadership Hagerstown class will get others involved in the CERT program.

Matheny said he hopes this will happen.

"It has not been a well-utilized program," Matheny said of CERT.

He said he hopes Leadership Hagerstown members will tell others about the valuable training. After Sept. 11, 2001, and Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, he said awareness was high and emergency training groups had spikes in attendance.

But when citizens do not hear about terrorist attacks and natural disasters, the need to prepare is not a priority for some.

To go through the training, Matheny said, the class is trying to raise $4,000. The funds will provide emergency kits for the students, as well as food. Washington County provides the training, but the funds, he said, will offset some of the burden on the county.

"We're raising this money so the county can spend its money on the citizens, not the class," Matheny said.

Cynthia Garland, Matheny's co-chair, said the group has raised most of the necessary funds from local business and media sponsors.

First Data, Citicorp and Valley Mall have contributed. Media sponsors include The Herald-Mail Co., Antietam Cable Television and Hagerstown Magazine.

Anyone wishing to become a sponsor may call Leadership Hagerstown at 301-739-2015, ext. 108, or send e-mail to leadership@hagerstown.org.

Details are available at www.leadershiphagerstown.org.

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