CERT Training Starts Feb. 28 – Register Now

By Ryan Marx – Communications Specialist
Spring 2012 Public Information Office Intern


If You’re Not Prepared, We’re All Not Prepared: If you have ever wondered  what you should do during an earthquake, fire or other emergency, then attending a CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) program could be for you. Learn more on our website or view the slideshow.

While preparing for the next training program, we asked CERT Coordinator Jim Watkins a few questions.

How did you get started leading the CERT program? 

Throughout my life, I’ve experienced a tornado, earthquake, train derailment, car crashes and ice storms, and being an Elementary School Principal for 26 years. I’ve developed an interest in preparing for what might happen. Additionally, I’ve participated in programs such as CERT, American Red Cross First Aid, CPR, Army Services and other training programs which stirred my interest in sharing the message that we all need to be prepared for things life throws at us. There are many things we can not control, but we can control how we react to the situation if we have the knowledge and confidence that we can make a positive difference.

Why do you feel major disaster training is important for the community? 

We do not wake up and say today I will have a disaster, they just seem to happen.  We need to be able to take care of ourselves so we are able to help our family, coworkers and neighbors. The best way to be prepared is having the knowledge of how to react positively in the event of a disaster happening.

How many people usually attend the CERT program training?

Typically, classes vary in size. We have had community classes of 10 while offering CERT training to schools with 130 staff members.  Of course, teaching techniques and number of instructors vary to accommodate these differences.  We try to have a minimum of 15 before we commit to providing a class.

How often is CERT training program offered?

We offer classes to the community in the spring and fall. We will go to businesses, neighborhood organizations, or churches to see if they have an interest in forming teams. Usually the summer is busy with school staff and refresher classes. We usually complete about seven classes each year.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Seeing individuals develop an awareness that they can make a difference in their lives, their families, their neighborhood and community by having a plan, a kit, and practice disaster preparedness activities. The saying is, “If individuals are not prepared, the community is not prepared.”

Jim Watkins has been coordinating Cape Girardeau’s CERT program for three years, beginning in October 2008 sharing duties with Jane Stough. Prior to his current position, Watkins worked 29 years in public education in Missouri schools and as a Fire Department volunteer for three and half years. Watkins has held side positions including a police department photographer, earthquake outreach instructor, U.S. Army service, and even farm and factory work.

Post by Ryan Marx, Communications Specialist Spring 2012 Public Information Office Intern