June 27, 2007 Edition

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C.E.R.T. asset to county

Amber Adams
Staff Writer

After seeing Lawrence County C.E.R.T., Community Emergency Response Team, in action Thursday night, I was motivated. Right then, I wanted to call everyone I know and tell them what a great asset this team is to our county.

I was impressed with the level of organization I saw last fall when I followed firemen from across the county during the disaster drill at Black Rock.

A command center was set up at the Black Rock Fire Station. When firemen began arriving to assist with disaster 'victims,' they signed in, so someone would know who was on the scene. The various groups worked with efficiency and professionalism, though this was just a drill. There was already talk of putting together a C.E.R.T. Team at this time.

After the tornados hit Marmaduke, and firemen from Lawrence County went to assist, it was decided that a team of specialists was needed. This way, one fire department would never have all of its members out at once.

Following the drill in Black Rock, work began on organizing Lawrence County C.E.R.T. The team consists of members of every fire department in Lawrence County, some of whom have specialized training. The team has divers, cavers, search and rescue dogs, paramedics and firemen.

I have been able to work with part of the search and rescue team at Lynn on a couple of occasions now and have been very impressed with their enthusiasm and efficiency.

The amount of work that goes into training and upkeep of the team's two bloodhounds, Molly and Daisy, is overwhelming. Volunteer firemen and members of the community work on keeping the dogs in shape, so they are ready to go any time. Volunteers hide in the woods, leaving their scent trail for Molly and Daisy to follow, allowing the dogs and those working with them to practice.

Thursday night, I was able to watch C.E.R.T. in action. I was incredibly impressed with their motivation and dedication to the search. Every member of the team knew what they were doing was just a drill, yet they handled it with proficiency.

A call went out at 5:45 p.m. to the Black Rock Fire Department reporting two canoes turned over at Lake Charles State Park. Pat Roby Sr., Black Rock Fire Chief, then did an all call for C.E.R.T.

Incident command was set up at the Lake Charles Nature Center, with each member signing in as they arrived. A chain of command was established and the team went to work. Within 30 minutes the first two 'bodies' had been recovered. The diver and his team continued to search for the other for over an hour.

I think this team is a great thing for us in Lawrence County. We have something of real value to offer not only our own citizens, but also those in surrounding counties.

When a child is missing or a hunter has not returned from the woods, I will rest easy knowing we have professionals who won't give up the search until they are found.

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