Civil Air Patrol members are passionate about serving their
communities. They commit weeknights and weekends along with personal resources
to complete the training necessary to qualify for mission duty. As CAP members, they also carry a
responsibility to promote emergency preparedness within their community. More often than ever before, Air Force-assigned missions for
disaster response include the deployment of ground resources in an urban
environment. These deployed resources
can benefit from Community Emergency Response Team or CERT training. The program provides local courses that train citizens to support first response efforts
within their neighborhoods.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) began the
training program in 1993 as a response to a major earthquake impacting
California. Counties receive funding for local courses through a FEMA grant
program. This may include providing trainees with the required personal
protection equipment, such as; backpacks, safety vests, hard hats, first-aid
kits and several additional pieces of safety equipment at no cost.
According to the website, "the Community Emergency Response Team program educates
volunteers about disaster preparedness for the 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." Course
material is often divided into two to four hour-blocks conducted over a series
of evenings or weekends."CERT volunteers are trained to respond safely, responsibly,
and effectively to emergency situations, but they can also support their
communities during non-emergency events as well. The program offers a
consistent, nationwide approach to volunteer training and organization that
professional responders can rely on during disaster situations, which allows
them to focus on more complex tasks."
Recently, the Polk County Fire Rescue offered a new
week-long training program, condensing 17 hours of practical training into two
weekday evenings and one full weekend day.
CAP members who complete CERT training should submit their certificate in order to document the specialty qualifications worksheet and add the CERT designation to their operations qualifications 101 card. Talk to your squadron’s emergency services officer about how
CERT training can benefit your members. Contact your local County Fire/Rescue
or Emergency Operations Center for more information.
Note: There are over 2,700 local CERT Programs nationwide,
with more than 600,000 individuals trained since CERT became a national