The Erie County Department of Public Safety offered free training sessions over the weekend in an effort to prepare residents for natural disasters and emergencies.

Around 18 people attended the weekend-long training session to be a part of Erie County's Community Emergency Response Team (CERT).

The training program is free.

It allows people to help during a disaster situation, whether it is locating a missing person or offering some type of aid, until emergency responders can take over.

Participants said the skills will come in handy.

"It's something that you're not exposed to on a daily basis," said Brian Waugman, participant. "In my daily job, I work in another field altogether. To be able to be exposed to this, it's a great relief for that, but the things that you learn, I think you can use in every day life."

"It's a program that takes the average citizen, gives them some basic skills and a skill set to help themselves and their neighbors in a time of disaster," said Brian Mesaros, assistant emergency management coordinator.

There are about 90 CERT members.

CERT training is offered at least twice per year at the Erie County Public Safety Building on Flower Road.

Copyright 2018 Erie News Now. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.