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Community Early Response Training

Posted on November 7, 2014

By a GaryNorth.com Site Member: Alpha

I just attended a class run by the local police department called Community Emergency Response Training (CERT). The materials are prepared and sponsored by FEMA. Your local fire department may have something similar.


The course covered the basics of disaster management. There were chapters on disaster response organization and management, basic medical triage, disaster psychology, hazards types, and structural identification, and basic actions for disaster area volunteers. The classes were taught by police, nurses, engineers, and long time disaster area volunteers. Most attendees were retired.

The course is actually a basic training to get people on a local emergency response team e-mail list and respond for local disasters. Folks would be doing neighborhood inspections, emergency triage, records keeping, etc. It didn’t matter if someone had a physical disability– they say that whatever skill you have can be used in a disaster. One instructor hated dealing with disaster victims and is good at IT. They always put him in the IT section of the emergency operations center.


The nurse had some good info about basic first aid and how to mark victims for triage for medical professionals. The warnings about searching buildings for survivors and what to avoid were good. The major thing I got out of the course was to ask the right questions in case there is a disaster in my neighborhood. For example, although I live in a blue collar neighborhood, there are apartments about a block away that appear to be section 8 housing. I am now making plans with neighbors for a defense perimeter on our block in case of disaster. It is amazing to see how many people are unprepared. It is likely that just because I am prepared and thinking about these questions that I would be a neighborhood leader in a disaster until things got under control.

After a class like this, you’ll often begin sizing up neighbors and their reliability in a disaster. For example the guy across the street with a “U.S. Marine Corps Retired” bumper sticker and a 2nd amendment sign in the front yard will be key in disaster response. The neighbor next door with two young children who says, “My wife won’t let me have a gun” will be a drain on resources.

Another good part was the simulated disaster exercise concluding the class. Every single group made mistakes that would have gotten a team member hurt or killed in real life.

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One thought on “Community Early Response Training

  1. A number of years ago, my son and I took this excellent training at our local fire department, and my son followed up with a series of certified Red Cross coureses – all good to that point. Our intent was to prepare ourselves – particularly with an appropriate mind set – for any local emergency that might affect our family or neighborhood. The downside came when we were encouraged to become more 'official', with photo ID tags and further commitment (which was very much downplayed) to FEMA. Had we followed through as encouraged to do, we would have obligated ourselves to be sent by FEMA to any disaster anywhere they chose to send us – regardless of the fact that our home or neighborhood might have needed us. Believing that should be our choice, not the governments, we chose not to go further. By all means, take the valuable training offered, but beware of the 'fine print'.