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Individuals sought to answer the call when disaster strikes

WESTFIELD-Ed Mello needs 10 individuals by Sept. 14 to participate in a basic EMT course this fall, sponsored by the Greater Westfield & Western Hampden County Medical Reserve Corps.

Mello, who founded the group in 2006 and serves as its director, believes strongly in the need to have community residents trained to assist others in the event a “disaster strikes” in the area.

“It only takes a few minutes to devastate a community, but it will take days to months for people to recover from that event,” said Mello.

The 196-hour course is planned from Sept. 14 to Dec. 15, and meets on Saturdays from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m., and on Tuesdays and Fridays from 6 – 10 p.m., all at the Episcopal Church of the Atonement on Court Street.

Mello said for the course to proceed he needs a minimum of 10 students enrolled.

“We need to get young people in particular trained to be ready in the event of a disaster,” said Mello. 

Mello noted that participants do not need a medical training background, only a willingness to help one’s neighbors and community should a natural or man-made disaster occur in the area.

“I feel the need is so great for this recruitment effort that I will take students on within a week of Sept. 14 if necessary,” said Mello.

Mello, a retired family nurse practitioner who has served in the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Army, has seen firsthand how important it is to have boots on the ground to help others in times of disaster.

“I would like to run this course twice a year but I have to have enough students,” said Mello.

Topics to be discussed range from lifting and moving patients, and anatomy, physiology and medical terminology, to patient assessment, general pharmacology and medication administration, shock and resuscitation. Also, Mello will lecture on toxicologic and cardiovascular emergencies, seizures, acute diabetic emergencies, altered mental status, stroke and allergic and anaphylactic reactions.

Trauma injuries will also be discussed at length, as well as burns, psychiatric emergencies, patients with special challenges, and obstetrics and care of the newborn.

Course materials also focus on the combat veteran, hazardous situations, multiple casualty incidents, ambulance operations and air medical response, and terrorist incidents.

“The course prepares the EMT student to provide pre-hospital assessment and care for patients of all ages with a variety of medical conditions and traumatic injuries,” said Mello.

Assigned readings, presentations, discussions, critical thinking exercises, class activities and skills exercises are all learning methods used during the fall course.

A $200 textbook is required and must be paid by the end of the course. Upon completion of the course, participants are also responsible for the cost of state and national exam fees.

“I am hoping that a local business or organization might be willing to pay for the textbooks or consider taking a student on and be their benefactor,” said Mello.

For more information on the EMT course, contact Mello via email to [email protected].

“With this training participants would feel prepared to help our members provide services to our local communities during future disasters,” said Mello. “I’m trying to get a team here in Greater Westfield and the Hilltowns to help our neighbors in the future should the need arise.”

Mello also encourages residents from Greater Westfield to consider other programs run by the nonprofit, including the Greater Westfield CERT (Community Emergency Response Team), or DART (Disaster Animal Response Team).

“The CERT program educates people about disaster preparedness for hazards that may impact their area and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations,” said Mello.

The DART program was created to support Hampden County’s response to the Federal Pets Act of 2006, which requires states to plan for the evacuation of pets (animals as well as people) during disasters in order to qualify for FEMA reimbursement. In the event of a declared emergency, DART may provide for rescue, triage, temporary sheltering or transport of animals to veterinary clinics or alternate boarding facilities.

A Teen CERT program is also offered, teaching young people about the potential disasters that could affect one’s area and how to safely and responsibly respond to them.

For more details on CERT and DART programs, visit

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