What is CERT?
After major disasters, such as 9-11 and Hurricane Katrina, America witnesses a wellspring of selflessness and heroism. People in every corner of the country ask, “What can I do?” and “How can I help?” Citizen Corps was created to help all of us answer these questions through education, training, and volunteer service. Citizen Corps was launched in 2002 as part of President Bush’s USA Freedom Corps initiative, and is coordinated nationally by the Department of Homeland Security.
Citizen Corps Councils help drive local citizen participation by coordinating Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) programs, developing community action plans, assessings possible threats, and identifying local resources. Ideally, every citizen would get involved, making our communities and our nation safer, stronger, and better prepared for emergencies of all kinds. We all have a role in hometown security, and Citizen Corps provides local opportunities for everyone to prepare, train, and volunteer.
CERT is a training program that prepares volunteers to help themselves, their families, and neighbors in the event of a crisis in their community. Through this interesting 20-hour program, participants learn about emergency preparedness and receive training in basic response skills such as fire safety, team organization, light search and rescue, and disaster medical operations.
In most emergencies, a victim or bystander provides the first, immediate assistance at the scene. Utilizing training learned in the classroom and during exercises, CERT members are better able to handle emergencies in their home and to assist others in their neighborhood or workplace following an event when professional responders are not immediately available to help. We owe it to ourselves and to our families to learn and maintain these skills.
A note to CERT Graduates: Many opportunities arise to volunteer, network, and use your new skills. Stay active. Check out the Volunteer Opportunities calendar.