The Los Angeles Fire Department warns that if you think the paramedics, police and the fire department will be able to respond immediately if a major disaster occurs; think again. Responders will be deployed to other significant incidents first. You could be on your own for an amount of time you can’t possibly predict so it’s essential that you know how to safely deal with your circumstances and help your neighbors without needing aid from outside sources.
That’s where free Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training comes in. CERT provides you with the skills and tools necessary to take care of yourself, your family, pets, neighbors, or coworkers in the event of a disaster.
CERT (sometimes known as NERT or ERT) is an international program established in over ten other countries throughout the world and part of the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Citizen Corps response and volunteer efforts.
Through presentations, drills, and exercises, the training covers hazardous materials and terrorist incidents, basic disaster preparedness, small fire suppression, first aid rapid treatment techniques, light search and rescue techniques and team organization. When you complete CERT, you can assist others following an emergency event when activated by your sponsoring organization when first responders aren’t immediately available to help. You have no obligation or commitment to respond or act should a disaster occur and you will not be expected to place yourself in dangerous situations.
FEMA estimates that over 600,000 Americans have taken CERT since its inception. Trainings take place across America for adults, teens and college and university students. FEMA offers guidance for starting a workplace CERT program. The Ready Campaign has the most up to date information on programs available throughout the country.
To learn about the disasters that have occurred in your area, FEMA has an interactive tool that allows you to explore historic federal disaster declarations.