Wednesday, December 12, 2018

What is CERT?

After a disaster, first responders and other government service providers are overwhelmed. Public services cannot be delivered everywhere that help is needed. Experience has shown that in a disaster setting ordinary citizens make over 80% of successful rescues as they respond to the emergency in their community. However, many untrained volunteer rescuers may actually cause harm or become injured in the process.

A Community Emergency Response Team is a ready force of organized and trained volunteer disaster workers that operates at the neighborhood level. They are prepared to be self-sustaining for three days following a large disaster.

When disaster strikes, CERT volunteers spring into action: they check on neighbors, suppress small fires, conduct light urban search and rescue, and provide emergency medical aid and psychological comfort to their neighbors.

In the post-disaster environment, CERT members organize and direct spontaneous volunteers who offer to assist in the community during the crisis. CERTs may also be called upon to help in other areas during emergencies even when their own neighborhood is not impacted.

The CERT Program prepares these volunteers with 20 hours of classroom and hands-on training. The training is provided by volunteer "subject matter" experts such as firefighters, EMTs, and building safety personnel.

State of Kansas maintains a list of state-approved CERT Trainers. Classes are offered by various agencies throughout the State of Kansas. It is best to go through the CERT program as a neighborhood team. You can educate yourself and your neighbors about disaster preparedness prior to the course. Then see if you can get friends from school, church, or other neighborhood groups to join you in class as a team!