When a disaster strikes, seconds count when it comes to how a community responds.
Depending on the disaster, it may take traditional first responders a while to get there.
In Yankton tonight, they're trying to change the way the community would respond.
The sweeping flash floods in Colorado illustrate how first responders can be cut off from those who need help the most.
"I know that it's very very important to know how to help your neighbors as well as yourself for the first 72 hours." Van Pace is a Yankton resident and former FEMA employee. She came out tonight to learn how to put out small fires, how to deal with gas leaks and how to make an initial medical assessment on someone who may be injured.
"You're trained in order to help that neighborhood. That's the first start right there." Edison Jared heads up Yankton County's Community Emergency Response Team, or CERT. The team is made up of people like you and me....with no real background in first response. What they do have is a desire to help themselves and their neighbors if something bad happens. "In the event of say a tornado...you may be the first person there at your community."
CERT members are volunteers who receive basic equipment from the state....and what they do is provide another layer of first response....literally from home. "Its up to each individual to be prepared to take care of themselves and their neighbors."
In a disaster, time is crucial. And the more people on the ground, the better. Yankton County's CERT team was established just last year.