Mike Benham is no stranger to Fire Department functions or Emergency Response Organizations, but he is the new head of the Mesquite Community Emergency Response Team (C.E.R.T.). “Mike has had plenty of experience with emergency services,” said Fire Chief Kash Christopher. “There is a lot of good talent in this city that I would love to utilize. CERT can help us do that.”
With just 12 members at the moment, and four of those being snowbirds, Benham is looking to increase the C.E.R.T. team to 20 year-round members who can assist whenever they are needed.
For now, C.E.R.T. is known for doing their free smoke detector battery changing program that is publicized every six months with the time changes. However, as Benham noted, that is changing and they will be offering the service on the first Tuesday of each month. If he can recruit more members who may have more flexible schedules, the program may be expanded as needed. One current issue with the program is the demand of people wanting the service at a specific time, after hours, when C.E.R.T. generally does not schedule the service.
“People want specific times, and running back and forth causes us to be inefficient with our time. We’re working on solving that problem to improve it,” he said. “We also can’t be out there at all hours either.”
Benham is looking to reach out to the younger community for his membership, telling the MLN that this is “something they should definitely do.”
The demands of C.E.R.T. aren’t too high, as the group meets on the first Wednesday of each month and plan out their schedule of where and when they are typically needed. “There’s a misconception of what C.E.R.T. does,” he said. “We aren’t going into burning buildings, high mountain rescues or deep water diving. We’re here as support for the smaller things that matter just as much.”
For instance, on Saturday, Nov. 7, Benham and his crew were at Virgin Valley High School at 4:30 p.m. to secure the building for the Vienna Boys Choir event later that evening. Instead of taking other law enforcement away from their duties, his team was able to step in and ensure the safety of the performers as well as the audience members who arrived several hours later.
Applying for C.E.R.T. isn’t all that hard. There is a simple two page Volunteer Application to fill out and once accepted, the applicant will take a special test online and continue from there.
“We’re going in a different direction and we need more members to do that. We’re not going into burning buildings. Our job is to educate people in case there is an emergency; so they know what to do and what to expect.”
Those interested in applying or learning more about C.E.R.T. can email firstname.lastname@example.org or inquire at Fire Station 3, at 3 John Deere Drive in Mesquite and talk to Lindy Hulet. She will be able to provide applications and other input as needed.