The Greater Tehachapi Valley Community Emergency Response Team is offering their free CERT Basic Course on the first weekend of October.

It will be held: 6 to 9:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 4; 8 a.m. to 5:30p.m. Saturday, Oct. 5; and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 6. It takes place at Golden Hills Community District, 21415 Reeves St.

The mission of the CERT program in Kern County is to “proudly serve our communities through support for the community during non-emergency events, hosting preparedness activities, and through safe response to emergency situations in support of KCFD and other sponsoring agencies.”

This CERT Basic Course is designed to help everyday people prepare their households for disaster. By preparing themselves, these people are also improving the overall preparedness level of their community. People who have taken the CERT Basic Course are encouraged to take it again in order to keep their skills fresh.

Participants can learn about the hazards that may impact them and how to prepare themselves and their family before, during and after the disaster. The city of Tehachapi conducted a Facebook poll asking people what their level of preparedness was. More than 60 percent said they had not even talked to their family about it. With our recent earthquakes, this course is an opportunity to improve that percentage.

Participants in this course gain confidence and learn skills including fire safety, search and rescue in light damage situations, and disaster medical operations, in addition to disaster preparedness.

If a participant would like to join a local team, they would take additional training, pass a background check, then be registered as Disaster Service Workers under the Kern County Fire Department.

These registered CERT volunteers support their community with preparedness education events such as this CERT Basic Course, GranFondo and National Night Out. On occasion, some CERT volunteers are activated by Kern County Fire to help other areas as was done during the winter storms and the Ridgecrest earthquakes.

Jeannie Taylor, Kern County Fire’s CERT coordinator, often says, “The first step to disaster response is disaster recovery. What you do now will have a direct affect to your outcome after a disaster.”

To register for the Fall CERT Basic Course or to place your name on the interest list for future class dates, visit www.TehachapiCERT.com, email us at gtvCERTrain@gmail.com, or call 271-7066. Class size is limited to 25 participants.

Don’t forget to follow and like their Facebook page, “Tehachapi CERT."

Sally Thoun is a board member of Tehachapi CERT.