During his 2002 State of the Union Address, President Bush asked Americans to volunteer their services in order to improve and safeguard their country. Harnessing the spirit of cooperation that developed as a result of the tragic events of September 11th, President Bush created the Citizen Corps Program to organize volunteer services in the areas of crime, natural disasters and terrorism. The Community Emergency Response Team or (CERT) is a part of the Citizen Corps Program.
The CERT concept dates back to 1985, when the Los Angeles Fire Department recognized that in the early stages of a disaster—earthquakes in particular—local emergency responders would be overwhelmed, and basic training in disaster survival and rescue skills would improve the ability of community members to survive until responders or other assistance arrived.
Recognizing the universal value of this program, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) worked in conjunction with the LAFD to make the CERT program applicable to all types of hazards and developed a CERT training program which could be used nationwide and adapted to meet local conditions when the need arose.
The tragic events of September 11th remind us that disaster can strike anywhere or anytime, and the basic safety and disaster survival skills can mean the difference between life and death. CERT training empowers community members to prepare responsibly and respond appropriately when emergencies occur.
CERT members give critical support to first responders in emergencies, provide immediate assistance to victims, organize spontaneous volunteers at a disaster site, and collect disaster intelligence to support first responder efforts.
If you join a CERT, you will receive basic-level training in the following areas:
Total training is usually about 18 hours, scheduled in 2 to 3 hour modules, over a period of weeks or months, in order to address the scheduling needs of team members.