Training to help disaster victims

Published 4:21 pm Thursday, March 15, 2012

By SHELBA NIVENS / Community Columnist

Classes to help equip communities for disaster, and train chaplains to be a ministry of presence, will be taught at Chelsea Church of God March 29-31. Two classes will be taught simultaneously, according to Chaplain Steve Wallace.

Dr. Jake Popejoy, former FBI chaplain, presently serving as community service chaplains trainer for the chaplains Commission, will teach the Community Emergency Response Team (C.E.R.T.) Training, which is a part of Disaster Response Chaplaincy.

Chaplain Wallace, gulf states regional coordinator for the Chaplains Commission, and Chelsea Fire and Rescue chaplain, will teach the Community Service Chaplaincy-Basic (CSC-Basic) course.

Both classes carry a full-certification that is recognized anywhere within the United States, Wallace said. The cost for each course is $295.

“The CSC-Basic course deals with grief, suicide and critical incident stress (biological responses, etc.),” he said.

“The C.E.R.T. training is a FEMA approved course that includes disaster response chaplaincy, dealing with emotional, physical, psychological and spiritual support during disasters.”

Wallace said the C.E.R.T. class also deals with hazards in the workplace, steps to prepare families for disaster, identifying and reducing potential fire hazards, working as a team to apply basic fire suppression strategies, resources and safety measures to extinguish a small fire, techniques for opening airways, controlling excessive bleeding, treating for shock and conducting triage under simulated disaster conditions.

Chelsea Fire Chief Wayne Shirley and other fire department personnel will help with parts of the training, he said.

“I support the chaplaincy program because I’m so very proud of it,” Shirley said. “It’s an extension of the fire department called “Critical Incident Stress Debriefing,’ because that’s what our chaplains do.

“The program is non-denominational, and we don’t push any church. The chaplains are just there to serve. They are trained to talk to victims and are still at the scene after the fire trucks leave. They can do more then.”

The chaplains try to give practical help, too, when it is needed, Shirley said, whether the need is financial or victims need a place to stay after a fire.

They are available to other areas, too, when there is a big need like a tornado, he said.

Registration for the chaplaincy classes begins on Thursday, March 29, at 8 a.m. Classes each day will run from 9 a.m.-5 p.m., and lunch will be provided for participants.

For further information, contact Chaplain Steve Wallace at 296-0092 or

Shelba Nivens can be reached by email at