Q: What is CERT?
A: The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Program educates people about disaster preparedness for hazards that may impact their area and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations. Using the training learned in the classroom and during exercises, CERT members can assist others in their neighborhood or workplace following an event when professional responders are not immediately available to help. CERT members also are encouraged to support emergency response agencies by taking a more active role in emergency preparedness projects in their community.
Q: How does CERT benefit the community?
A: People who go through CERT training have a better understanding of the potential threats to their home, workplace and community and can take the right steps to lessen the effects of these hazards on themselves, their homes or workplace. If a disaster happens that overwhelms local response capability, CERT members can apply the training learned in the classroom and during exercises to give critical support to their family, loved ones, neighbors or associates in their immediate area until help arrives. When help does arrive, CERTs provide useful information to responders and support their efforts, as directed, at the disaster site. CERT members can also assist with non-emergency projects that improve the safety of the community.
Q: How do I take CERT training?
A: To become a CERT member, you will have to take the CERT training from a sponsoring agency like an emergency management agency, fire department or police department in the area where you live or work. Contact the local emergency manager where you live or work and ask about the education and training opportunities available to you. Let this person know about your interest in CERT.
Q: How do CERT members maintain their skills?
A: CERT members and the local sponsoring agency work together to maintain team skills and the working partnership. It is suggested that the sponsor conduct refresher classes and an annual exercise where all CERT members are invited to participate. Some response agencies have conducted joint exercises with CERT teams and operate as they would during an actual disaster. The last point does bring up a lesson learned. Besides training CERT members, it is also important to educate members of response agencies in the community about CERTs, the skills that team members have learned during training and the role that they will have during a major disaster. One way to develop trust between CERT and responders is by encouraging agency personnel to participate in classes as instructors and coaches and in activities with CERT members.
Q: What about liability?
A: Information about state laws regarding liability can be found on the Citizen Corps website. The Non-Profit Risk Management Center also has information about specific state laws regarding volunteer liability.
Information provided on this website was obtained from www.citizencorps.gov, and www.nonprofitrisk.org.