The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program is a positive and realistic approach to prepare citizens for emergency and disaster situations. Through training, citizens learn basic disaster response skills such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization and disaster medical operations. CERT members can assist others in their neighborhood or workplace when professional responders are not immediately available to help during a disaster or emergency.
Following a major disaster, first responders who provide fire and medical services will not be able to meet demand for these services. Factors such as number of victims, communication failures and road blockages will prevent people from accessing emergency services they have come to expect at a moment’s notice through 911. Residents may have to rely on each other for help in order to meet their immediate life saving and life sustaining needs.
One also expects that under these kinds of conditions, family members, fellow employees, and neighbors will spontaneously help each other. This was the case following the Mexico City earthquake where untrained volunteers saved 800 people. However, 100 volunteers lost their lives while attempting to save others. This is a high price to pay and is preventable through training.
CERT is the answer. Citizens will learn the facts about what to expect following a major disaster in terms of immediate services and how to prepare. CERT trains residents in life saving skills with emphasis on decision making, rescuer safety and doing the greatest good for the greatest number. The course teaches how to organize teams as an extension of first responder services. Teams can then offer immediate help to victims until professional services arrive.
Who Joins CERT?
A typical CERT volunteer is a resident who wants to be informed and is willing to assist when a disaster hits. CERT teams can be formed through a partnership with neighborhood associations, Neighborhood Watch programs, Rotary Clubs, business groups or faith based groups. Together, team members and co-workers build a CERT network within their own community, teaming with Germantown Police and Fire Departments and Neighborhood Services. They work together for a common cause. CERT members are not shelter workers; they are trained citizen first responders who can help save lives. Residents of all ages can benefit from CERT training.
CERT training is a 20 hour course that offers a broad base of training far beyond a disaster preparedness class. There is a CERT team role for adults of all abilities and specialties.