County assembles disaster teams

By TRAVIS JAMES TRITTEN

keysnews.com

In extraordinary situations, sometimes ordinary citizens can make the difference.

This fall, county residents could be trained by emergency officials to help neighbors in the immediate fallout of a hurricane or other disaster.

Monroe County Emergency Management hopes to launch the Community Emergency Response Team program by October that would cover the few hours between the end of a disaster and the arrival of professional emergency teams.

In the Keys, all residents are asked to leave when a Category 3 hurricane or greater threatens.

"We are trying to assess the level of interest," said Jerry O'Cathey, planner for Emergency Management. "These people would be available and on the scene, and have knowledge they could apply."

Residents would get instruction in:

*disaster preparedness

*light search and rescue

*fire suppression

*disaster psychology and team organization

*medical operations

*assuming a leadership role after a disaster.