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.

Get Involved

A note to CERT Graduates: Many opportunities arise to volunteer, network, and use your new skills. Stay active. Check out the Volunteer Opportunities calendar.

Latest News

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Missouri launches Web site to help Missourians be prepared for tornadoes and severe storms. Missouri StormAware Web site includes videos on sheltering and storm warning systems; stormaware.mo.gov also includes links to severe weather texting services to alert Missourians to severe weather in their area.

Missouri has a website to help inform and prepare Missourians for severe weather. Stormaware.mo.gov includes detailed videos on how to take shelter in specific types of buildings, important information about tornado sirens and weather alert radios, and links to severe weather texting services that can alert people across Missouri to upcoming severe weather.

“We think Missouri StormAware will be a valuable tool to educate all Missourians about the steps they can take to help protect themselves from dangerous severe weather,” State Emergency Management Agency Director Paul D. Parmenter said. “We’re providing very specific information about the safest places in different types of buildings, pointing out the limitations of tornado sirens that people should be aware of, and directing Missourians to text messaging systems that provide severe storm warnings.”

The Missouri StormAware Web site shows how people can find the safest place to shelter in their house and the steps mobile home residents should take as soon as they move in to their residences. There’s also information for sheltering in schools, places of worship and other large gathering places. A video on tornado sirens and how they are used explains that they are designed to alert only people who are outdoors, and should not be relied upon while indoors. In another video, a National Weather Service meteorologist explains the importance of weather alert radios and recommends that every Missouri family have one in their home.

An important feature of the StormAware site allows users to find text messaging services in their area that will allow them to get automatic text alerts whenever a severe storm warning is issued in their area. The services, which are not provided by the state of Missouri, are free, but normal text messaging rates will apply.

“We will also be adding additional content and we hope that Missourians will visit, sign up for text messaging alerts in their area, refer friends and relatives to the site and then check back periodically to learn more about being StormAware,” Parmenter said.