Those who work in emergency response often remind people: When a disaster strikes in your neighborhood, you may well be the first responder for your family and neighbors.

If that’s a daunting prospect, it doesn’t have to be.

The Gadsden/Etowah County Emergency Management Agency will be hosting a free Community Emergency Response Team class beginning Tuesday that will provide the training needed for civilians to better respond when trouble strikes.

The CERT program educates volunteers about disaster preparedness for the hazards that may impact their area. It offers training in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations.

CERT offers a consistent, nationwide approach to volunteer training and organization that professional responders can rely on during disaster situations, which allows them to focus on more complex tasks.

Classes will be from 5:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m. Oct. 29 and Nov. 5 and 7 at the University of Alabama Center, Gadsden.

“CERT is a great opportunity for citizens to help their friends, neighbors and community,” EMA Director Deborah Gaither said. “The training received will also allow members to provide first responders with accurate, concise and critical information during a disaster.”

The class is free and all course materials are provided. For more information, contact the EMA at 256-549-4575 or email ema@cityofgadsden.com.