Tech begins organizing an emergency response team

Tech is receiving two updates to its efforts to ensure the health and safety of campus. The first is that the Office of Emergency Preparedness has partnered with the Atlanta Citizens Emergency Response Team to form a new volunteer program on campus for all students, faculty and staff called the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). Tech is also receiving a new crime preparedness officer (CPO), whose job it is to enhance community safety and provide prevention of criminal activity.

Ian Mayberry is replacing Grant Hawkins, who served as the previous CPO. The CPO has the task of organizing health and safety events on campus and works to educate on the issues of personal safety, sexual assault, theft and crime prevention.

“Instead of being after the fact, I want to try to prevent crimes. It’s better than saying ‘I’m sorry’ to a victim,” Mayberry said.

Mayberry will also work closely with the Atlanta Police Department to monitor criminal activity, especially in the areas around campus.

As the CPO, Mayberry will undergo training certification for the CERT and integrate some of his duties with the newly formed program.

Tech’s CERT is part of a larger nationally sponsored government program called Citizen Core formed as part of a presidential directive in response to events such as Sept. 11 and Hurricane Katrina.

The volunteer-based program is multi-faceted, with its main focus on emergency and disaster response and relief efforts. Volunteers must undergo a five-class training course to become certified CERT members. Once certified, members would be able to improve disaster readiness, conduct disaster damage assessment, teach fire safety, perform light search and rescue operations and various forms of light medical treatments.

“We’ve been trying to do this for a year, but couldn’t get the training organized,” said Jennifer Mattingly, emergency preparedness coordinator. “We want to have about 30 people.”

According to Mattingly, once the Tech team has enough members, they would eventually be able to have in-house training. The organization would receive training from groups like City of Atlanta Fire Department, Atlanta Police Department and other city emergency services.

In addition to being prepared to respond to an emergency, Tech’s CERT team would be able to provide other services to the Tech community. These include conducting drills, providing first aid at campus events and providing other forms of community outreach and training on health and safety issues.

Furthermore, the training a student or faculty member receives as part of Tech’s CERT team will also be recognized nationwide. An individual doesn’t have to join the Tech’s CERT team to complete the training and is able to join a CERT team in another community.

Mattingly described how many CERT teams around the nation were a major part of the emergency response to Katrina, and with the help of CERT, many people did not have to rely on first responders. “It’s easy to use [CERTs] when they are already on the scene,” Mattingly said.

There are other universities forming their own CERT organizations across the nation. According to Mattingly, Tech is the first university in the state to attempt to form a CERT team that she is aware of. The University of Georgia is said to be waiting to see how the formation of a CERT team at Tech goes before forming their own.

“If the first training [session] is successful, then we hope to offer one each fall and spring semester,” Mattingly said. “We want everyone involved: students, faculty and staff.” The first training class is Oct. 2 at 5:30 p.m.