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July 15, 2004
CONTACT: Kathleen Shields

EMU Citizen Corps Council will train area residents to assist in emergencies

YPSILANTI — Eastern Michigan University has taken the local lead in a national initiative to better prepare communities for emergencies by becoming a Citizen Corps Council site. These councils, which include volunteer organizations, community leaders and first responders (fire, police and emergency management professionals), are part of the USA Freedom Corps established by President George W. Bush after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Their mission is to provide direction on issues relating to homeland security, and prepare communities to respond to acts of terrorism, crime, public health issues and disasters of all kinds.

EMU’s council is the first in Washtenaw County, and one of 15 currently operating in Michigan. Nationwide, there are 53 state and territory-level councils that oversee 1,270 county, local or tribal councils.

“We have been training first responders at EMU for many years,” said Skip Lawver, director of EMU’s Center for Regional and National Security. “We are uniquely prepared to take that expertise and help make Washtenaw County safer, stronger and better prepared to respond to emergencies. The more people who can calmly and effectively assist in a crisis, the better first responders can do their jobs. ”

Lawver  and other members of the Washtenaw County Citizen Corps Council have begun the council’s first initiative, Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training.  CERT training starts with train-the-trainer sessions, where first responders learn how to teach local citizens to respond to local emergencies.

Trained first responders then teach community volunteers about disaster preparedness, disaster fire suppression, basic disaster medical operations, and light search and rescue techniques.

CERT-trained volunteers can give critical support to first responders, provide immediate assistance to victims and organize other volunteers at a disaster site.

The national Citizen Corps hopes that more than 400,000 Americans will attend a 20-hour CERT training in their communities in the next two years.  Lawver is hoping to move Washtenaw County’s training program into local high schools, and see the program translated into Arabic so that EMU can also serve southeastern Michigan’s large Arabic population.

For more information on the Washtenaw County Citizen Corps, contact Skip Lawver at 734.487.1161 or skip.lawver@emich.edu.  For more information on the national Citizen Corps program, visit www.citizencorps.gov on the Web.

Eastern Michigan University is a public, comprehensive university that offers programs in the arts, sciences and professions. EMU prepares students with the intellectual skills and practical experiences to succeed in their career and lives, and to be better citizens.

Editor's Note: Looking for an expert source for a story? Check out EMU's Eastern Experts online at www.emich.edu/univcomm/easternexperts.

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