The CERT Program Educates Volunteers About Disaster Preparedness
Friday, February 16, 2018

By 1st Lt. James Chamberland, Polk County Composite Squadron

Lake Wales, FL -

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 program.

The January 2018 graduates of Polk County Fire Rescue CERT training program.
Photo Caption:  The January 2018 graduates of Polk County Fire Rescue CERT training program.
Article Information
Reviewed by: 1st Lt. James Chamberland Sr.
Syndicated to: Region Hq, Florida Wing, Group 3
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Civil Air Patrol, the longtime all-volunteer U.S. Air Force auxiliary, is the newest member of the Air Force’s Total Force. In this role, CAP operates a fleet of 560 aircraft, performs about 90 percent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and is credited by the AFRCC with saving an average of 80 lives annually. CAP’s 57,000 members also perform homeland security, disaster relief and drug interdiction missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. CAP also plays a leading role in aerospace/STEM education, and its members serve as mentors to 24,000 young people participating in CAP’s Cadet Programs. Visit for more information.
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