Community Emergency Response Team (CERT)

Introduction to CERT

The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) concept is a major, growing concern in the quickly evolving arena of emergency management on a micro versus macro scale.

CERT is the wave of the future – the immediate future – as limited resources for disaster response at all levels of government (local, state and federal) are bumping up against ever-increasing need of the populace in the face of elevating incidence and ferocity of natural and man-made disaster. The CERT concept is part of the answer to the horns of this dilemma: residents on a street or apartment complex in their neighborhood will network and be trained to take care of themselves in the first critical post-disaster hours and possibly days when no outside help is available. Think of the CERT program as a kind of block party, only instead of socializing over hot dogs and hamburgers, neighbors get together to train and plan to look after each other when under siege of disaster effects. When you really think about this concept, it has implications that are of a serious, life and death nature.

The CERT program is a FEMA program, part of its Citizen Corps and Ready campaigns, but had its origins in forward-thinking Fire and EMS units in southern California decades ago. Neighbors are trained in conducting an initial assessment of their own homes and survival kits. They learn to reduce the immediate dangers presented by a disaster by turning off utilities, suppressing small fires, evacuating the area, and helping others. They learn to treat people in the immediate area. They learn to implement their own Incident Command System – they establish a command post, staging area, and medical triage and treatment areas. They learn to collect damage information and develop a plan of operation based on life-saving priorities and available resources. And they learn to establish and maintain communications with responders and the outside world.

Become a CERT leader! Every journey of recruiting a dozen homes on a street for a CERT begins with the first, perhaps your next door neighbor. Talk to him or her “over the fence” and start planning and drafting your team.

You are On Your Own! “Winging It is Not an Emergency Plan”

The government’s promotional language often reads like this: “When a disaster or overwhelming event occurs and responders are not immediately available, CERTs can assist ” Let’s examine what they’re really saying in plain terms: When your house and family are in immediate danger in the first minutes and hours after a disaster, you are on your own. There will likely be no EMS, fire, police nor any other agency responders to save you and your family and neighbors. Your survival is up to you alone, based on your preparations and the help from your immediate neighbors on your street. Your chances will be greatly enhanced with an organized neighborhood response, the kind of response that is at the heart of the CERT concept.

You can become a CERT Leader. Training Classes are planned for twice yearly, Spring and Fall. Please contact the Florence CERT Coordinator to reserve your place in the next class.

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