The CERT program/training is a Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) created community program that educates residents about disaster preparedness for hazards that may impact their area. CERT volunteers will be trained by a certified CERT trainer in basic disaster response skills such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations. Using training learned in the classroom and during exercises, CERT volunteers can assist others in their community following a disaster when professional responders are not immediately available to help. CERT volunteers are also encouraged to support their emergency response agency by taking an active role in emergency preparedness projects.
The foundation of the CERT Program is FEMA’s CERT Basic Training Course, which provides a baseline of knowledge for all CERT members. This national training curriculum educates the public about emergency preparedness and teaches basic emergency response skills. Completing the course prepares the public to safely assist family, friends, neighbors, co-workers or fellow students before professional first responders arrive, whether or not the trainee joins a CERT team.
Those who join a CERT team may also participate in organized activities (community service opportunities) that are not part of an emergency response, such as distributing preparedness materials. In an emergency, CERT members may be called upon to assist professional responders with operational activities under the command and control of an affiliated or sponsoring local government agency (in our case, the Russian River Fire Protection District and the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department).