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Following a major disaster or emergency, public safety personnel may not be able to meet all of the demands for services required. Factors such as the number of victims, communication failures and road damage will prevent people from accessing emergency services they have come to expect at a moment's notice through 911. People will have to rely on each other for help in order to meet their immediate life saving and life sustaining needs.
The Community Emergency Response Team concept was developed and implemented in Los Angeles, California in response to earthquakes. The Federal Emergency Management Agency, recognizing the importance of the program, has adopted and expanded the CERT materials to cover all hazards. Individuals trained in CERT methods and techniques benefit by being better prepared to respond to and cope with the aftermath of a disaster.
The Community Emergency Response Team Program educates people about disaster preparedness for hazards that may impact their area and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization and disaster medical operations. Using the training learned in the classroom and during exercises, CERT members can assist others in their community or workplace following an event when professional responders are not immediately available to help. CERT members are also encouraged to support emergency response agencies by taking a more active role in emergency preparedness projects in their community.
CERT is about readiness, people helping people, rescuer safety and doing the greatest good for the greatest number. CERT is a positive and realistic approach to emergency and disaster situations where citizens will be initially on their own and their actions can make a difference. Through training, citizens can manage utilities and put out small fires; treat the three killers by opening airways, controlling bleeding and treating for shock; provide basic medical aid; search for and rescue victims safely; and organize themselves and spontaneous volunteers to be effective.
For more information about the CERT program, visit the CitizenCorps website.