CRESTVIEW — Crestview Community Emergency Response Team and Holt Volunteer Fire Department members are helping Holt Boy Scouts work toward earning the Emergency Preparedness merit badge.
In turn, Troop 532 members will help Holt during natural or manmade disasters.
Mark Brown, the Crestview CERT’s team chief, on Monday advised six scouts about creating a troop mobilization plan. With the scouts’ assistance, volunteer firefighters could concentrate on providing relief in the community, helping the elderly and clearing roadways during emergencies, Holt Volunteer Fire Department Chief Scott Chestnut said.
"They can help us out in a lot of different ways, handing out water, handing out tarps, ice," he said. "That frees up our guys to do what they are trained to do."
First, the scouts need to identify a meeting place, such as the troop’s regular meeting location or at the church. Additionally, they need an alternative location, should the first one be unavailable. Other priorities include establishing an alternative communication method, should telephone lines and cell phone towers be unavailable.
Once the troop writes the plan, it must be presented to Brown and Chestnut.
"This is the first time we have endeavored to do the Emergency Preparedness merit badge," Scoutmaster Max Cooper said. "I have been affiliated with other scout troops in other cities; we have really never had a mobilization plan."
Bryce Taylor, 10, summed it up.
"Let’s just say, a tornado happens out in Holt, you have got to know what to do then," he said. "That is kind of what the badge is all about."
Scouts browsed Holt fire engines and asked questions; later, they will tour the fire station to learn how they can assist the community during disasters.
The skills they’re developing have long-term implications, Brown said.
"This badge will develop a lifelong learning process that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives," he said. "What they learn now at this early age will teach them skills that they will continue to build on."
Crestview CERT, which trains residents in emergency preparedness, provides a similar service to support Hub City emergency responders.
The group regularly assists members to become CPR-certified and trains amateur radio enthusiasts for licensed communication.
"In the first 72 to 96 hours after a catastrophe hits ... it’s going to be neighbors helping neighbors at that time," Brown said.
Email CERT officials at firstname.lastname@example.org. Crestview CERT can also be followed on Facebook at on.fb.me/17PyKeh.
Want to help?
What: Crestview Community Emergency Response Team meetings
When: 7-8 p.m., fourth Tuesdays
Where: Second-floor training room, Crestview Fire Department, 321 W. Woodruff Ave. The room is wheelchair accessible.
Contact News Bulletin Staff Writer Matthew Brown at 850-682-6524 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @cnbMatthew.