The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program educates volunteers about disaster preparedness for the hazards that may impact our area and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as: fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, terrorism awareness and disaster medical operations. CERT offers a consistent, nationwide approach to volunteer training and organization that professional responders can rely on during disaster situations, allowing them to focus on more complex tasks.

“Doing the greatest good, for the greatest number of people.”

CERT History

The CERT concept was developed and implemented by the Los Angeles City Fire Department in 1986 after an 8.0 earthquake hit Mexico City in 1985 causing the deaths of more than 5,000 people. During the recovery efforts, untrained volunteers came to the aid, saving more than 700 lives. Sadly, 100 of those volunteers died while saving those trapped in the ruble. The Whittier Narrows earthquake in 1987 underscored the area-wide threat of a major disaster in California. Further, it confirmed the need for training civilians to meet their immediate needs. Years later, the program was picked up by Orlando FL, changing the main threat from earthquakes to hurricanes.

CERT then became a national program in 1993 once it was adopted by FEMA. There are now CERT programs in all 50 states, including many tribal nations and U.S. territories. Each is unique to its community and all are essential to building a Culture of Preparedness in the United States. There are over 2,700 local CERT programs nationwide and more than 600,000 people have trained since CERT became a national program.

What information is taught?

The basic training class covers the information listed below. After the participants complete course, additional training classes are available as well. The classes are taught in-person and often lead by a subject matter expert. Hands on training is applied when applicable.

  • Disaster Preparedness – During this class participants will get an overview of the program. The fundamentals of disaster preparedness include: making a disaster kit, identifying local hazards and how everyone plays a part in preparedness.
  • CERT Organization – This class teaches the Incident Command System (ICS) and students learn the importance of the command structure. CERT is a part of the ICS as well as having a similar command structure within.
  • Disaster Medical Operations – The medical portion is split into two classes, as there is much to learn. Basic first-aid, splints, recognizing different injury types as well as recognizing symptoms of shock, wound care, and triage operations are all part of these classes.
  • Fire Safety – Get hands on training for operating a fire extinguisher and turning off utilities. We also teach the basics of fire science, hazardous materials, and understanding DOT placards.
  • Light Search and Rescue (LSAR) – This unit teaches participants how to safely carry victims, how to efficiently conduct a search operation both inside and outside, and how to remain safe while working.
  • Disaster Psychology – Not all injuries are visible. This unit covers how to spot signs of emotional trauma not only for victims of a traumatic experience, but also for themselves. Mental health is just as important as any other type of injury.
  • CERT & Terrorism – Learn to recognize the warning signs of suspected terrorism and what you and your family should do to prepare for and in the aftermath of a terroristic attack.

Other Training classes taught after the Basic training:

Firefighter Rehab, Animal Response I & II, Crowd Control, Traffic Control, Storm Shelter Management, and many others!

When are CERTs utilized?

CERTs respond:

  • In the period immediately after a disaster when response resources are overwhelmed or delayed
  • When requested in accordance with standard operating procedures (SOP) developed by the sponsoring organization (RCEMA) to assist emergency response personnel
  • In planned, nonemergency settings (e.g. parades, booth staffing, special events)

CERT volunteers are not trained to perform all of the functions or respond to the same degree as professional responders. A CERT is a bridge to professional responders until they arrive.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. How much does this training cost?

A. This class/ training is free. There is an optional class for CPR certification that may cost money.

Q. What tools or equipment do I need?

A. None. Upon completion of the course, tools and gear will be supplied to you.

Q. When is the next class?

A. The next starts Thursday April 6th at 6:30 PM EST at our office.

Q. How long is the class?

A. The CERT basic training program is generally held one night a week, for eight weeks unless otherwise specified.

Ready to join the Russell County CERT Program?

By submitting your information below, you agree to be contacted by someone from the RCEMA once a class is scheduled. You can also call our office directly to be notified of training.  (334) 291-5079

For More Information visit https://www.FEMA.GOV

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