Two years ago, a group of individuals wanted to do something to help law enforcement across the county and founded Cass County Behind the Badge.
By July 2017, the group decided to expand their mission to include all emergency responders, and with the expansion, Behind the Badge now has 337 members, all with the intention to help those who serve and protect Cass County every day.
“We have members from Eagle to Elmwood to Nehawka. We started with spouses of law enforcement and just last July we added all first responders. It is made up of first responders’ family and friends. We support first responders in a positive manner and let them know we’re out there for them,” said Ginger Tuttle, Behind the Badge member. “We’re trying to put together a program within our group to help when emergencies arrive.”
Behind the Badge is guided by its board of directors including Jennifer Brockman, director; Tuttle, secretary; Brittanie Egley, treasurer; and Sabrina Rhoades-Dovenbarger.
To increase their support, Behind the Badge teamed with Cass County Emergency Management Agency to offer a free Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Basic Training, through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, starting Feb. 23 and concluding Feb. 24 at the Plattsmouth Fire Station. Although the group met Friday night, an ice storm starting midnight Feb. 24 caused officials to postpone the remainder of the class until March 10 and March 11.
Roseanne Dobesh-DeGraff and Matthew Jarvis are the instructors. Plattsmouth Volunteer Fire Department Assistant Fire Chief Bill Dudek also volunteered the use of the fire station for the class.
People with CERT training will acquire basic skills needed to respond to their community’s immediate needs in the aftermath of a disaster, when emergency services are not immediately available. “They will be able to identify types of hazards that are most likely to affect the home, workplace and neighborhood and take steps to prepare themselves and their families for a disaster,” information from CCEMA states.
Trained individuals are ready to provide immediate assistance to victims in their neighborhood; organize spontaneous, untrained volunteers to provide needed services; and collect disaster intelligence to assist professional responders who are trying to distribute limited resources.
“Tonight is about how to expand that support,” Brockman said the first night of the class. “We really wanted to take it to the next level, so they can go out and do their jobs. First responders are one big family. We want to be out there every day supporting them and their families. I do feel we have the most amazing first responders.”
Taking the CBT educates a person about standard operating procedures followed during disaster situations such as storms, floods, fires, earthquakes, chemical spills and terroristic acts.
The decision to offer the class followed the June 16 storm cell that hit Cass County with tornadic and 120 mph straight winds, causing significant damage to trees, some homes, power lines and buildings.
Cass County Emergency Management Agency Executive Director Sandy Weyers suggested Behind the Badge members take the course during a meeting following the storm.
“The biggest class so far came out of a Behind the Badge meeting. They wanted to provide support,” Weyers said.
Dobesh-DeGraff explained the class was comprised of Behind the Badge members as well as citizens from many communities in the county. Leo Larkin from the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency was also in attendance.
Bockman was pleased with the response to the first night of training.
“Our first night of CERT Training is in the books and we want to send a huge shout out to Roseann Dobesh-Degraff, Sandy Weyers and Matthew Jarvis for hosting this very informative and important training tonight!! The timing of this event this week has made it seem much more impactful to our community. We are extremely grateful to be part of this very important training and part of this first responders’ family,” she said.
For more information about CERT Training visit the Cass County Behind the Badge Facebook page.