CERT trainers travel to Moldova to teach preparedness skills

Samantha Royster presents completion certificate to CERT class member in Moldova

The North Carolina Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) trains people how to be prepared for emergencies in their community.  In May, an Apex couple who are CERT trainers traveled at the invitation of the U.S. Army to the Eastern European country of Moldova to share these potentially life-saving skills.

CERT class members in MoldovaSamantha Royster, CERT Program Manager with North Carolina Emergency Management, teaches CERT skills to people across North Carolina, including Civil Affairs soldiers at the U.S. Army Special Operations Command.  Royster has taught classes at Fort Bragg, including CERT Basic Training and the CERT Train-the-Trainer course; however, she never expected officials with the U.S. Army to ask her to teach in Moldova as part of NATO’s Partners for Peace program.

To help facilitate the overseas learning, the U.S. Army financed an educational trip to the City of Soroca. Royster was accompanied by her husband, Jay Royster, who is a paramedic, a CERT trainer and the president of the Apex CERT.  Both Roysters were involved in teaching the Moldovans as well Army personnel at Fort Bragg.

The objective was to provide training to local police, fire, and other emergency responders in fire safety, triage and treatment of wounded, light search and rescue, disaster psychology, CERT organization and the Incident Command System. Participants also went through a “Train-the-Trainer” course so they could then teach others in the northern town of Soroca.  The U.S. Army plans to replicate the training in the central and southern parts of the country, including the capital of Chișinău, benefiting many more Moldovans.

There were complicated logistics to work through before the trip could take place, including getting the course materials translated into Romanian. Well-versed in all of the teaching materials, Royster said she doesn’t normally need to use notes when teaching, but did this time to ensure they were all on the same page because all the PowerPoint slides had been translated.

CERT class member dons respiratorNormally the course takes about 21 hours to teach, but due to the language barrier and the need to have everything translated, as well as responses to questions, it took the better part of five days. However, Royster says the participants were very receptive to what they were teaching.

“The director of a local hospital gave us a lot of praise at the end of the course,” Royster said.  “The experience really affected me more than I thought it would. It was very rewarding.”

The Partnership for Peace began in 1994 to aid in the development of relationships between participating countries and NATO. There are currently 21 countries in the Partnership for Peace program, including the United States.  Royster says there are plans for Fort Bragg personnel that have gone through the CERT Train-the-Trainer course to reach out to other European countries so they can deliver the program there.

CERT training includes emergency preparedness, firefighting skills, basic medical help, and light search and rescue so people can help others in their area while waiting for emergency responders to arrive. CERT members can help responders in an emergency by helping those in need and organizing other helpers at an emergency site. They also can help with non-emergency projects to help improve workplaces and communities. The CERT program is available to individuals of all abilities.

To find a CERT program near you, visit http://nc-cert.com.