published Sunday, February 12th, 2012

Classes to help Rhea residents prepare for emergencies

Coordinator Jim Conner, of the Rhea County Sheriff's Department community emergency response team, leads a recent introduction workshop for residents about upcoming classes.  Eight classes are scheduled, starting in late March, at the department's training center in Evensville, Tenn., to prepare residents for possible emergencies.
Photo by Kimberly McMillian
Coordinator Jim Conner, of the Rhea County Sheriff's Department community emergency response team, leads a recent introduction workshop for residents about upcoming classes. Eight classes are scheduled, starting in late March, at the department's training center in Evensville, Tenn., to prepare residents for possible emergencies. Photo by Kimberly McMillian

EVENSVILLE, Tenn. -- After last April's tornadoes, the Rhea County Sheriff's Office made plans to offer emergency training classes for area residents before this year's storm season arrived.

Jim Conner, coordinator for the sheriff office's community emergency response team classes, said organizers will train people and they can set up groups or teams in their neighborhoods or churches to help in emergency situations.

Nearly 30 people attended a recent introductory workshop in Evensville to learn about classes that will be offered this spring.

The eight classes will involve disaster preparedness, disaster medical training, light search-and-rescue operations, fire safety and disaster psychology, Conner said.

Karen Massengale, a volunteer with the American Red Cross, said she came to the workshop to learn more about the "community collaboration" necessary to the work.

The classes, offered in conjunction with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, will certify participants after they've completed the eight-unit course.

Last year, volunteers worked tirelessly to assist those with damaged or destroyed homes in Spring City and in Bledsoe County, Conner said, but more people were needed.

J.E. Gryder, with the county's homeland security team, said Sheriff Mike Neal had "implemented community support through volunteers" and would use them at a moment's notice in emergency situations.

Volunteers trained through the class would help by assisting with tourniquets to stop bleeding, removing fallen logs or helping to organize shelters in neighborhoods, Conner said.

The first class will be March 29 at 6:30 p.m. at the training center in Evensville.

For more information, call Conner at 423-255-2200 or the sheriff's office at 423-775-7837.

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