CERT stands for Community Emergency Response Teams.
Not every disaster is best met with a locked door and loaded gun. If you’re interested in helping your community by aiding evacuations, fighting fires and treating victims in the aftermath of minor and major disasters, joining CERT may be up your alley.
CERT members are “on call” community volunteers called to assist when first responders are overwhelmed and other emergency professionals are unable to get on scene. CERT is a FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) funded program which provides no-cost education and hands-on training in basic disaster response skills including fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, disaster psychology, terrorism response and medical assistance. CERT members also participate in community outreach, emergency response drills and other preparedness / public safety projects.
To become a member of CERT you must attend a 2-3 day (length varies by jurisdiction) training class where you’ll learn to conduct damage assessments, locate / turn off utilities, extinguish small fires, identify hazardous materials situations, prepare for incidents specific to your community, triage / treat victims, set up medical areas, conduct search and rescue in lightly / moderately damaged structures and more. Part of your instruction includes mock disaster simulations.
Once you complete the class you’ll be invited to join your community’s CERT. There’s no obligation to join. Some programs provide CERT members with official identification and gear (think cheap vests and hard hats) that may allow you to move a bit more freely than others post-disaster. Certain areas even offer TEEN CERT programs or may allow minors as young as fourteen to become certified with parental permission.
Still interested in exploring CERT but aren’t willing to commit to the multi-day required training? You can complete an online, independent study course called “Introduction to Community Emergency Response Teams” which can be found here. It includes six modules and takes 6-8 hours to complete. Once finished you’ll receive a certificate of completion.
As preppers we focus a lot of energy, money and time protecting ourselves and our families. Given that, it’s rather easy to lose sight of the warm and fuzzy virtue of helping others. Sometimes, in some situations, the best way to help ourselves is to help others. If anything, the training offered by CERT is incredibly relevant to the prepper community and is a great opportunity to expand your knowledge and skills.