Emergency plans move forward for CERT and MFR

CERT Manager Mike Benham talks to volunteer members, public officials and other community attendees at their cookout on April 18. Photo by Stephanie Frehner.

CERT Manager Mike Benham talks to volunteer members, public officials and other community attendees at their cookout on April 18. Photo by Stephanie Frehner.

At the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) cookout on April 18 at Fire Station 3, Mesquite Fire and Rescue Chief Kash Christopher announced that the department is close to completing its goal of setting up the emergency contact call that will allow Mesquite to notify most residents in the event of a flood, power outage or other disaster that could hit the area.

“We have approval with FEMA, we’re just waiting on the agreement with Arizona,” said Christopher. The notification would work just like the recent one did with mobile devices, where an alert is sent out to notify people about a situation and offer them necessary information.

They are also planning on running a test of the emergency notifications via cable and satellite providers.

“I don’t want to do the demo, I want to do it live,” he said. “We don’t need to do the demo and think that it works, only to find that when we go through the live thing, that it doesn’t work.” Christopher noted that it might irritate residents of Las Vegas, but that’s something he’s willing to live with. “We need to know that it works right.”

While the efforts have been in the works for several months to a year, it was realized by many in March during the 16-hour power outage that having as many contact methods as possible is necessary to reach more people. “During that situation, it was sent out by Clark County Fire,” said Christopher. “We’re working on getting the ability down here, hopefully in the next few weeks.”

CERT manager and City Council Candidate Mike Benham also announced a recent deal with the City of Mesquite where one of the city’s SUVs that is rarely used will be available by the CERT team to travel within the city as they do their events and services, instead of using their own vehicles as they do now. “It will make it much better for us,” said Benham. “We’ll be able to do more and do it efficiently.”

Mayor Al Litman was also in attendance and told the Mesquite Local News that there are several older GMC Broncos or similar vehicles that were obtained several mayors ago, that are just sitting and not being used. “CERT will be able to use it, but they will furnish the gasoline for their usage,” he said. Details are still being worked out on the fine print, but Litman said that preliminary paperwork has begun this week and they should be able to use it soon.

As with most meetings with public invitation, Benham and Christopher also reminded the public in attendance that the purpose of CERT is to do light-duty work related to emergency services and that their primary role is to educate the community. Currently, the free Smoke Detector Battery Replacement Program is running once a month as needed to assist residents with proper maintenance of their detectors.

CERT is a completely volunteer-based organization and will always accept new members. The main requirements for being a CERT member is to be over the age of 18 and to take an online test. For more information on CERT, email certmesquitenv@gmail.com or call Lindy Hulet at Fire Station 3, 702-346-2690.

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