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The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) will host its annual training program in October.

The classes are free for up to 20 Maricopa residents interested in participating.

Administered by FEMA and under the direction of Maricopa Fire/Medical Department, a part of the program’s mission is to train ordinary people how to act in disaster situations when emergency responders are busy.

“The citizens are trained to take care of themselves, their family, their home, their neighbor and maybe their neighborhood,” said Bill Robertson, a CERT training lead.

Six Thursday evening classes teach residents on disaster preparedness, fire safety and utility controls, medical treatment and disaster psychology, light search and rescue, and terrorism.

CERT trainers will test participants in a mock drill Nov. 17.

Those who receive completion certificates can apply to become a volunteer with CERT team members in real life emergencies.

Volunteers work 24-hour, on-call shifts. This year, volunteers have responded to six structure fires in Maricopa where they rehabilitate overheated firefighters.

“Along with that we do crowd control and vendor inspections at city events,” said CERT Lead John Mulquin.

Volunteer applicants must pass a background check.

Training class begins Oct. 4. To register, email john.mulquin@maricopa-az.gov.

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