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Published 10/1/2003
Owens Partners With Emergency Management Agencies To Provide Educational Training

The new CERT Program will allow Northwest Ohio residents to assist in an emergency prior to first responders arriving on the scene. Owens Community College and the Lucas County Emergency Management Agency and safety forces are entering into a unique collaboration, establishing an emergency program to heighten Northwest Ohio's responsiveness in the event of a natural disaster or terrorist attack. With this agreement, Owens becomes the first higher educational institution in the state of Ohio to offer emergency training as part of the national Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) Program.

The partnership was initiated by the Toledo Fire and Rescue Department's Bureau of Special Operations with the overall mission of training area residents to help one another following a catastrophic disaster. Other communities within Ohio currently offering the CERT Program include Delaware, Greene and Montgomery counties and the greater Cincinnati area. Training for the new program will occur at the College's Workforce and Community Services Division.

"By partnering with several local emergency response agencies, Owens Community College has a great opportunity to impact how Northwest Ohio responds to a disaster," said Linda Stacy, Owens Vice President of the Workforce and Community Services Division. "This new CERT Program will provide individuals with emergency training and skills that are essential to saving lives of other citizens."

According to Stacy, the development of this collaborative effort shows just how dedicated each organization is to addressing and preparing for the threat of a natural disaster or terrorist attack.

Established in 1985, the CERT Program was created to teach area residents the proper emergency training techniques to assist citizens affected by a natural disaster or terrorist attack, while limiting risk to themselves. Twenty-eight states and Puerto Rico have initiated the training since the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) nationally expanded the program in 1993.

Individuals receiving the CERT Program training will be able to provide immediate assistance to victims within their proximity and organize and lead volunteers who have not received the emergency training. They also will collect disaster intelligence, assisting professional responders with the prioritization and allocation of resources following a disaster.

Area residents interested in acquiring emergency training skills, needed to respond to a natural disaster or terrorist attack, will be required to attend a course taught by local fire and medical personnel. The 24-hour CERT program will provide individuals with hands-on experience in areas such as disaster preparedness, fire safety, disaster medical operations, light search and rescue, team organization, disaster psychology and terrorism.

Following the training portion of the program, all attendees will be required to participate in a final simulated exercise. Individuals also will receive a training backpack complete with emergency equipment and an identification badge designating CERT membership.

"In the event of an emergency or disaster, the first individuals on hand are usually full-time or volunteer professional responders. However, if these safety forces are not available to address immediate life-saving needs, CERT members will have the necessary training skills to assist until help arrives," said Lt. Gregory Tillman of the Toledo Fire and Rescue Department' s Bureau of Special Operations. "The establishment of this new program will greatly enhance Northwest Ohio's ability to respond to an emergency situation."

The initial course for the new CERT Program will available to area residents October 17-19 and November 7-9. Courses also will be offered to area businesses and industry for on-site training.

Owens Community College has been at the forefront in partnering with area police, fire and medical agencies for more than 30 years. The College currently is investing in the future of emergency training by constructing a new Fire and Police Training Center for Homeland Security.

This state-of-the-art facility will serve as a training hub for fire, police, military, maritime and medical personnel in Northwest Ohio and from across the United States. Owens' new Center will include training facilities such as a driving/handling pursuit track, burn building, fire tower, a mock city, car burn area, fuel spill area and search and rescue site. The new facility also will feature a Terrorism Simulation Center, a Maritime Training Site and transportation-related emergency sites to include air, rail and ground.

Owens also has signed an agreement with the Ohio Fire Academy to provide college coursework to full- and part-time firefighters throughout the state of Ohio. This collaboration will enable fire academy students to earn an Owens associate's degree, while simultaneously receiving instructional training. Owens is the first higher educational institution in the state to offer any type of degree program to Ohio fire academy students.

On the Toledo-area Campus, Owens currently offers associate degrees or certificate programs in Fire Science Technology and Criminal Justice Science Technology, as well as Emergency Medical Technician Certification.

The CERT Program is free and available to Lucas County residents or employees. For additional information, or to enroll in the CERT Program, contact the College's Workforce and Community Services Division at 1-800-GO-OWENS, Ext. 7357 or (567) 661-7357, or the Toledo Fire and Rescue Department's Bureau of Special Operations at (567) 936-3542.

Owens Community College is the fastest-growing higher educational institution in Northwest Ohio with 26 consecutive semesters of enrollment increases. On the Toledo-area and Findlay-area campuses, Owens serves more than 40,000 credit and non-credit students making it the number one choice for new college students. Owens is committed to providing small classes, personal attention and unmatched affordability. Owens Community College offers over 130 program areas in Agriculture, Business, Fine and Performing Arts, Health, Public Service, Skilled Trades, Industrial and Engineering Technologies. Owens students also can earn the first two years of a bachelor 's degree with a smooth transfer to any area four-year college or university.


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