COMMUNITY EMERGENCY RESPONSE TEAM (CERT)
What is CERT?
CERT is a training program that prepares citizens to help themselves, their family, and their neighbors in the event of a disaster. During an incident, emergency service personnel may not be able to reach everyone right away. By getting trained in CERT, people will have the skills to help emergency responders save lives and protect property.
As a member of a CERT teams, people can respond to disasters, participate in emergency drills and exercises, and take additional training. CERT teams are known and trusted resources to emergency responders and their communities.
What do CERT teams do in an emergency?
Under the direction of the county emergency management and emergency responders organized CERT teams can provide critical support by giving immediate assistance to victims, providing damage assessment information, or organizing other volunteers to provide assistance as needed.
Volunteers trained in CERT also offer a potential workforce for performing duties that support disaster response such as supporting shelter operations, serving in volunteer centers, manning hot lines, crowd control, assisting with evacuations and other necessary functions.
A primary role of the CERT volunteer is to help others until trained emergency personnel arrive. In 95 percent of all emergencies, the victim or bystander provides the first immediate assistance on the scene. Would you know what to do?
How does CERT help their community?
In addition to supporting emergency responders during a disaster, the CERT program builds strong working relationships between emergency responders and the people they serve.
CERT teams can also help their community year-round by volunteering to help their communities with emergency plans and preparations for local events and emergencies, by participation in emergency or other preparedness exercises, by helping authorities with local preparedness outreach programs such as fire safety education, home and workplace safety programs.
How can CERT Members can help during the Response and Recovery phases of a disaster?
Before emergencies or disasters occur the agencies responsible to conduct the response and recovery tasks are involved in preparing emergency plans and operating procedures, training to do their jobs, and developing and organizing facilities that will support the emergency operations.
In emergency or disaster situations CERT members and teams can assist their communities in the response phase by helping their neighbors, assisting with traffic control, helping with local light search and rescue, by volunteering their services to the jurisdiction. In the recovery phase they could help the local Debris Manager with debris removal within the jurisdiction and with the operation of the temporary debris storage/reduction site.
During major emergencies, or in disaster situations, there are many essential supporting facilities that are needed in order to conduct operations. These include the County Emergency Operations Center, the Joint Information Center, Red Cross Shelters, Volunteer Centers, Donation Management Warehouses and others. All of these facilities depend on volunteers to help with their operations.
CERT members can assist with the operations of these facilities by volunteering to be part of the facility staff and assist in the operations of the facilities. Many CERT members have skills that these facilities need in order to conduct successful operations. The volunteers for these facilities must realize that volunteering to help these facilities involves a personal commitment to participate in training and to respond when notified on the facilities activation.
Benefits of CERT Training.
There are many personal benefits to an individual that takes the twenty hours of CERT training as it provides useful skills in emergency preparedness and response. Participants learn how to:
Identify and anticipate hazards
Reduce fire hazards in the home and workplace
Extinguish small fires
Conduct light search and rescue
Learn First Aid principles
Apply basic medical techniques
Learn basic defense measures
Who should take CERT Training?
Community Leaders, Neighborhood Watch Groups
Parents, teachers, students and administrators
Scouting and youth organizations, church groups
Members of Clubs and Civic Organization
People interested in helping their communities and county in emergency situations
How do I find out more regarding CERT and CERT training?
The CERT office is located in the County Emergency Management Agency’s building at 241 West Main Street in Lancaster (Level 1 in the Governement Services Building). Susan Hatcher is the CERT Coordinator and handles membership issues, provides information regarding CERT, coordinates CERT training activities, and maintains CERT files. For information during business hours, contact the EMA office, Monday thru Friday 8:00 am to 4:00 pm, or e mail firstname.lastname@example.org.