The Greater Tehachapi Valley Community Emergency Response Team (GTV CERT) will be offering free spring training sessions in hazards that may impact your area and basic disaster response skills — such as fire safety, light search and rescue, and disaster medical operations. Dates are Saturdays, May 4 and 11, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Saturday May 18, from 8 a.m. to noon, at the Alpine Forest Chalet, 18900 Alps Drive.

Having trained over 1,600 residents in 17 years, their top priority under the sponsorship of the Kern County Fire Department is to educate for disaster preparedness.

KCFD CERT County Coordinator and Tehachapi native Jeannie Taylor has expanded the program to offer additional opportunities to volunteer within your community and the county, with levels 2 and 3.

Level one students use their skills for their own household and are not part of a community team. Level two members may be activated and deployed as part of their local CERT, to assist others in an emergency within Tehachapi and may also assist with planned events like GranFondo. Level three members are vetted with the county and will be a deployable asset of the department throughout the county. CERT students are under no obligation to join a team.

2018 was a major year for GTV CERT which has the largest team across the county. A total of 25 volunteers were sworn in as official California Disaster Workers and the spring training was one of the largest classes. Additionally, one of the founding CERT members, Jim Nelson, was given an award in December from the Bear Valley Springs Community Services District (the first sponsor of CERT) for all the volunteer work he has done, in particular, for starting CERT and working on their Disaster Preparedness Advisory Council.

Countywide, CERT has volunteered at Campout Against Cancer in Bakersfield for two years providing parking assistance and was deployed by KCFD to distribute sand bags in Lamont as part of storm preparation in March. Additionally, CERT teams participated in several KCFD house burn exercises in Shafter and Bakersfield.

To register for spring training, RE-CERT, place your name on the interest list for future class dates or request additional information, visit TehachapiCERT.com, email gtvCERTrain@gmail.com, LIKE and FOLLOW or send us a private message on our Facebook Page (Tehachapi CERT) or call 271-7066. Fall training dates are still ito be determined.

Sally Thoun is a board member of Tehachapi CERT.