When disasters, emergencies or just plain SHTF strike the decision of having taken the path of self-reliance becomes clearer and much more appreciated. No one wants to have to depend upon the government or others to take care of their basic needs. This is probably why you took the path of self-reliance to begin with. However, while it is vital to take care of your immediate needs, such as your family, we must also consider the needs of those around us.
There is a ever increasing number of communities starting Community Emergency Response Teams (CERTs) in cities and communities across the United States. Let’s face it, if the SHTF the emergency response agencies will be so overwhelmed that there just won’t be enough of them to help everyone. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a team of trained citizens on stand-by just in case other jurisdiction’s resources were not readily available? What is this CERT organization?
What is The Community Emergency Response Team?
Created in 1985 by the Los Angeles City Fire Department (LAFD), the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) asks average citizens to volunteer then trains them to assist safety forces when the need is the greatest such as after a disaster. This was especially needed since the region was experiencing a series of earthquakes in the late eighties and early nineties.
The idea of preparing a team of trained civilians as auxiliary back-ups got the attention of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) so they expanded it to take a “all hazards” approach. In 1993, CERT was placed under the umbrella of FEMA and was made available on a national level across the United States. Although under FEMA, CERT but is supervised and operates on the local level with in each city’s fire department, police department or emergency management agency.
How Does CERT Benefit the Community and You?
Who wouldn’t want to be better prepared for any type of hazard that might strike their area whether it be a hurricane, earthquake, tornado or even a terrorist attack! Do you know how you would respond and recover from the aftermath of a emergency or disaster? We can all pick up a book or go online and train ourselves on how to deal with various types of hazards however, wouldn’t you rather be trained by those who work in the field professionally?
When a person joins CERT they immediately go through the basic CERT training course that gives them the initial training and skills that they will need for their role to operate as a auxiliary safety force volunteer. This training gives them the basic knowledge of hazards that could potentially threaten their home, their neighbors, place of work, community and even surrounding cities. Skills and classroom training are then put into practice in mock disaster and emergency exercises.
If something big were to strike, local safety forces will not be able to reach everyone in a timely manner. By joining CERT, you will have the necessary skills and training to reach out to your family and neighbors to support them with their basic needs until the safety forces can arrive. Members of CERT are trained in practical skills, organization and decision-making that can be used right away to assist others while waiting for emergency responders. While it is true that any person can help others in times of need the idea behind CERT is to have trained individuals who can accomplish this task effectively while keeping themselves safe and out of the path of danger Members of CERT can also be used by the safety forces for non-emergency needs such as: traffic control during local events, handing out emergency educational literature and the distribution of smoke alarms.
What Kind of Training is Offered to Those Who Join CERT?
The basic CERT training course involves approximately 20 hours of in class coursework and concludes with a disaster simulation drill that ties everything together. In CERT Basic Training will will learn:
- Unit 1: Disaster Preparations
- Unit 2: Fire Safety and Utility Controls
- Unit 3: Disaster Medical Operations Part 1
- Unit 4: Disaster Medical Operations Part 2
- Unit 5: Light Search and Rescue Operations
- Unit 6: CERT Organization
- Unit 7: Disaster Psychology
- Unit 8: Terrorism and CERT
- Unit 9: Course Review / Final Exam / Disaster Simulation
Once you go through the basic training you can then seek out additional skills by taking other classes through various organizations and agencies. Some of the trainings a CERT member can take include: wide-area search and rescue, community relations, traffic control, special needs care, first aid, bomb recognition, animal care, CPR, how to use a defibrillator and so much more. By being a CERT member most of these classes can be taken for free or at a low cost. You are more of a benefit to the community if you are trained in these special skills then untrained.
Retired Lt. General Russel L. Honore said in a statement made in 2008 regarding individual responsibly, “There are about 3,000 FEMA workers, 300,000 National Guard members and about half the Army deployed at any given moment. The 304 million potentially in need of saving dwarfs the number of rescuers. ‘You need to save your damn self’”. The more people who can be trained under organizations such as CERT the more people there will be to help out in case of a emergency or disaster.