CERT Training

What is CERT? Why Join?

As we have learned from different disasters (including Hurricane Andrew and Wilma), such events can overwhelm or delay the local community's professional response. It may be days before emergency personnel can reach an area. Citizens unable to help themselves or each other make up one of the principal elements that overwhelm emergency responders and their resources.

The Community Emergency Response Team concept was developed and implemented by the Los Angeles City Fire Department (LAFD) in 1985. The Whittier Narrows earthquake in 1987 underscored the area-wide threat of a major disaster in California. Further, it confirmed the need for training civilians to meet their immediate needs. As a result, the LAFD created the Disaster Preparedness Division with the purpose of training citizens and private and government employees.

The training program that LAFD initiated makes good sense and furthers the process of citizens understanding their responsibility in preparing for disaster. It also increases their ability to safely help themselves, their family and their neighbors. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recognizes the importance of preparing citizens. The Emergency Management Institute (EMI) and the National Fire Academy adopted and expanded the CERT materials believing them applicable to all hazards. Now communities in 28 States and Puerto Rico have CERT programs.

CERT training promotes a partnering effort between emergency services and the people they serve. The goal is for emergency personnel to train members of the neighborhoods, community organizations or workplaces in basic response skills. CERT members are then integrated into the emergency response capability in their area. CERT members assist others by applying the basic response and organizational skills they learn during training. These skills can help sustain lives following a disaster until help arrives. CERT members also help out their community by volunteering for projects that improve community emergency preparedness and assisting law enforcement and rescue departments where ever needed.

CERT is about readiness, people helping people, rescuer safety, and doing the greatest good for the greatest number. CERT is a positive and realistic approach to emergency and disaster situations where citizens will be initially on their own and their actions can make a difference.