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To find out how your association can participate, call Anita at 954-739-1600         C.E.R.T.


Introduction and Overview

Community Preparedness

Following the events of September 11, 2001, Citizen Corps was launched as a grassroots strategy to strengthen community safety and preparedness through increased civic participation.   Since then, the importance-of preparedness education, training, and involving the whole community has become increasingly recognized as critical to successful community preparedness and resilience.

Citizen Corps is administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, within the Department of Homeland Security, but is implemented locally.  Communities across the country have created Citizen Corps Councils as effective partnerships between government and community leaders to focus on the following objectives: engaging the whole community in collaborative community planning and capacity building; integration of community resources; outreach and localized preparedness education and training; emergency communications to all population segments; drills and exercises; and, volunteer programs.

CERT is a critical program in the effort to engage everyone in America in making their communities safer, more prepared, and more resilient when incidents occur.  Community-based preparedness planning allows us all to prepare for and respond to anticipated disruptions and potential hazards following a disaster.  As individuals, we can prepare our homes and families to cope during that critical period.  Through prevent planning, neighborhoods and worksites can also work together to help reduce injuries, loss of lives, and property damage.  Neighborhood preparedness will enhance the ability of individuals and neighborhoods to reduce their emergency needs and to manage their existing resources until professional assistance becomes available.  Studies of behavior following disasters have shown that groups working together in the disaster period perform more effectively if there has been prior planning and training for disaster response.  These studies also show that organized grassroots efforts may be more successful if they are woven into the social and political fabric of the community neighborhood associations, schools, workplaces, places of worship, and other existing organizations.

Effective response therefore requires comprehensive planning and coordination of all who will be involved -government, volunteer groups, private businesses, schools, and community organizations.  With training and information, individuals and community groups can be prepared to serve as a crucial resource capable of performing many of the emergency functions needed in the immediate post-disaster period.  The CERT Program is designed to train individuals to be assets to help communities prepare for effective disaster response.

When Disaster Strikes

The damage caused by natural disasters, such as earthquakes, hurricanes tornadoes and flooding, or from manmade / technological events such as explosions or hazardous' materials accidents can affect all aspects of a community from government services to private enterprise to civic activities.   These events:

  • Severely restrict or overwhelm our response resources, communications, transportation, and utilities.
  • Leave many individuals and neighborhoods cut off from outside support.

Damaged roads and disrupted communications systems may restrict the access of emergency response agencies into critically affected areas.  Thus, for the initial period immediately following a disaster- often up to 3 days or longer- individuals, households, and neighborhoods may need to rely on their own resources for:

  • Food
  • Water
  • First Aid
  • Shelter

Individual preparedness, planning, survival skills, and mutual aid within neighborhoods and worksites during this initial period are essential measures in coping with the aftermath of a disaster.  What you do today will have a critical impact on the quality of your survival and your ability to help others safely and effectively.  By learning about the likely hazards in your community and your community's plans and protocols, understanding hazard-specific protective actions and response skills, assembling important emergency supplies, and mitigating potential hazards in your home, you will be more resilient to any disruptive event.  You will be an important asset to your family, neighbors, and other members of your community. 

About Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) basic training

If available, emergency services personnel are the best trained and equipped to handle emergencies.  Following a catastrophic disaster, however, you and the community may be on your own for a period of time because of the size of the area affected, lost communications, and impassable roads.

CERT Basic Training is designed to prepare you to help yourself and to help others in the event of a catastrophic disaster.  Because emergency services personnel will not be able to help everyone immediately, you can make a difference by using your CERT training to save lives and protect property.

Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) basic training

This training covers basic skills that are important to know in a disaster when emergency services are not available.  With training and practice, and by working as a team, you will be able to protect yourself and do the greatest good for the greatest number after a disaster.


As each CERT is organized and trained in accordance with standard operating procedures developed by the sponsoring agency, its members select an Incident Commander /Team Leader (IC/TL) and an alternate and identify a meeting location, or staging area, to be used in the event of a disaster.

The staging area is where the fire department and other services will interact with CERTs.  Having a centralized contact point makes it possible to communicate damage assessments and allocate volunteer resources more effectively.  This is true for all CERTs, whether active in a neighborhood, workplace, school, college/university campus, or other venue.

Damage from disasters may vary considerably from one location to another.  In an actual disaster, CERTs are deployed progressively and as needs dictate.  Members are taught to assess their own needs-and the needs of those in their immediate environment first.

CERT members who encounter no need in their immediate area then report to their staging area, where they take on assigned roles based on overall area needs.  Members who find themselves in a heavily affected location send runners to staging areas to get help from available resources.  Ham and other radio links also may be used to increase communication capabilities and coordination.

The CERT Program can provide an effective first-response capability.  Acting as individuals first, then later as members of teams, trained CERT volunteers can fan out within their assigned areas, extinguishing small fires, turning off natural gas at damaged homes, performing light search and rescue, and rendering basic medical treatment.  CERTs also act as effective "eyes and ears" for uniformed emergency responders.  Trained volunteers also offer an important potential workforce to service organizations in non-hazardous functions such as shelter support, crowd control, and evacuation.

For more information call Anita at 954-739-1600.  Active participation in classes and training will help assure we are all prepared for the next emergency.