Harper, Palatine Fire Dept. team to offer CERT training

January 26, 2015

When Palatine Deputy Fire Chief Patrick Gratzianna recalls that sudden and severe storm that passed through the Chicago area last September, he immediately lauds the village's Community Emergency Response Team.

Downed trees and power lines littered the area, creating dangerous conditions and overwhelming emergency workers. He dispatched a team of about 10 CERT volunteers, assigning them to relieve one of the department's power ladders and assist with much-needed traffic control duty.

The volunteers had gone through CERT training, which is designed to help citizens protect themselves, their families and their neighbors in emergency and disaster situations.

Now, Harper College and the Palatine Fire Department are partnering to offer the curriculum next month to residents across the Northwest suburbs.

Citizens who go through CERT training make a difference, Gratzianna said. In the 7-session course taking place on Harper's main Palatine campus, students will learn to manage utilities and put out small fires; treat the three medical killers by opening airways, controlling bleeding and treating for shock; provide basic medical aid; safely search for and rescue victims; organize spontaneous volunteers to be effective; and collect disaster intelligence to support first responder efforts.

Gratzianna said students will benefit regardless of whether they go on to volunteer.

"Going through this training primarily means you're looking toward the preparedness and safety of your own family," Gratzianna said. "That's what really matters most."

Gratzianna said only a couple communities in the area offer the training, but several have active emergency management programs and ample volunteer opportunities. Officials decided to partner with Harper due to the current renovation at Village Hall, the recent retirement of Palatine's emergency management coordinator and the College's central location within the 20-plus communities it serves.

"When a disaster strikes – be it a manmade or natural disaster – it's important for every household in every neighborhood to embrace their own preparedness," said Norma Nerstrom, manager of Continuing Education Career Training at Harper.

Classes meet from 6 to 9 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays between Feb. 2 and Feb. 23. Tuition and fees total $69. Attendees will receive a FEMA Certificate of Graduation upon successful completion.

To register, call Harper College's Continuing Education department at 847.925.6300 or visit harpercollege.edu/ce.

Media contact: Kim Pohl, Media Relations Manager, 847.925.6159