CERT is Community Emergency Response Teams, and is what the name implies.
They operate under the umbrella of the local government, with ties to state governments and FEMA.
See the About page here, and look here for training materials.
Where is the local CERT team? Look here.
Per the FEMA website, they offer training in the following topics:
“The CERT training for community groups is usually delivered in 2 1/2 hour sessions, one evening a week over a 7 week period. The training consists of the following:
Session I, DISASTER PREPAREDNESS: Addresses hazards to which people are vulnerable in their community. Materials cover actions that participants and their families take before, during and after a disaster. As the session progresses, the instructor begins to explore an expanded response role for civilians in that they should begin to consider themselves disaster workers. Since they will want to help their family members and neighbors, this training can help them operate in a safe and appropriate manner. The CERT concept and organization are discussed as well as applicable laws governing volunteers in that jurisdiction.
Session II, DISASTER FIRE SUPPRESSION: Briefly covers fire chemistry, hazardous materials, fire hazards and fire suppression strategies. However, the thrust of this session is the safe use of fire extinguishers, sizing up the situation, controlling utilities and extinguishing a small fire.
Session III, DISASTER MEDICAL OPERATIONS PART I: Participants practice diagnosing and treating airway obstruction, bleeding and shock by using simple triage and rapid treatment techniques.
Session IV, DISASTER MEDICAL OPERATIONS, PART II: Covers evaluating patients by doing a head to toe assessment, establishing a medical treatment area, performing basic first aid and practicing in a safe and sanitary manner.
Session V, LIGHT SEARCH AND RESCUE OPERATIONS: Participants learn about search and rescue planning, size-up, search techniques, rescue techniques and, most important, rescuer safety.
Session VI, DISASTER PSYCHOLOGY AND TEAM ORGANIZATION: Covers signs and symptoms that might be experienced by the disaster victim and worker. It addresses CERT organization and management principles and the need for documentation.
Session VII, COURSE REVIEW AND DISASTER SIMULATION: Participants review their answers from a take home examination. Finally, they practice the skills that they have learned during the previous six sessions in disaster activity.
During each session participants are required to bring safety equipment (gloves, goggles, mask) and disaster supplies (bandages, flashlight, dressings) which will be used during the session. By doing this for each session, participants are building a disaster response kit of items that they will need during a disaster.”
I can’t see a downside in getting this kind of training. Don’t think: “the government will know who I am and I don’t want anything to do with it”–.gov already knows who you are, and infiltration of .gov with FreeFor is a laudable goal. Not only do you get the training, you connect with local folks who are also of the preparedness mindset. You have access to additional types of training that might not otherwise be available. Local militia leaders should also plug their group into this system (in my opinion) as this offers a degree of legitimacy not otherwise available.
On a side note, my father-in-law (who specialized in killing multiple types of pests throughout his career, from the 8 leg to the 2 leg variety; 20 years in Special Forces as a medic and disease prevention specialist) highly recommends this type of training; indeed, berated me soundly for overlooking the obvious.
Please comment below with any direct experience with CERT training.
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In [our city in hurricane country], the CERT program is taken very seriously and well supported on a city and county level. I have done the classes twice, once to learn it, once to refresh it. There is a LOT of information presented, and if it is new to you, it will probably take a repetition to make it stick.
Most of the info is fairly shallow “overview” but is very wide ranging. I recommend to ANYONE with an interest to take the classes. You don’t have to be Tactical Timmy, most of my classmates were seniors, some with physical limitations, and one wheelchair bound. Unless you are a full time Emergency Management pro who came up thru the ranks of fire, ems, EM, and civil defense, you will learn stuff.
In particular, the mass casualty triage module should open some eyes about the level of seriousness involved. Breathing? No — head tilt 2x then MOVE ON. That is a REALLY hard reality for most of the participants. It points up the emphasis on DISASTER response. On the other hand, there is a fairly extensive first aid component too.
The Disaster Psych, and NBC/terrorism modules have some graphic imagery and real world examples.
Maybe the best module for the unfamiliar is the intro to the Incident Command System. This is the framework that ALL disaster response in the US uses, and fits into the NICS framework. It will give you a framework for MANAGING the response, as well as familiarize you with how your local authority will be organized and managing themselves.
It’s training, it’s free to YOU, it is actually ‘real world’ and useful (no happy gas), and you get an official credential and backpack full of entry level stuff. AND it’s VOLUNTARY whether you activate or deploy. Their mantra is self–>family–>neighborhood…
BTW there are some intangibles as well. You have the opportunity to meet and get to know some of the EM people in your area. Your official credential might be worth something in some situations. In some situations you might ‘move to the front of the line’, for example, some of our CERT teams volunteered for an exercise running emergency POD or points of distribution in an emergency VACCINE distribution scenario. It doesn’t take much imagination to see how being involved in that could have benefits to you and your family. And lastly, CERT training opens up paths to additional training and participation in MASSEX training events (assuming you aren’t a complete muppet) and opportunities for additional meaningful public service.
Even if you can’t make the time for the classes, download and READ the material. You will learn something.
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My local CERT, in fire country, has been great for training, networking and communications.
Some grant money is used to purchase Yaesu FT-60 ham radios which are distributed to anyone willing to get the license. Local classes and tests are held when the numbers come up. I continued on with the ham testing and got a General and was issued an HF rig and antenna. I’ll get my Extra license this Saturday so that I can become an exam proctor. Local CERT radio nets and county-wide CERT nets are held weekly to practice. The radios were so helpful during the last little fire that my wife and kids are studying for their licenses.
Another grant was used to purchase 100-person medical/trauma kits. They are staged in the different neighborhoods throughout the town. Having a medical background, I was fortunate to be chosen to stage one at my house.
The classes were very helpful, especially in understanding and implementing the ICS and how the different levels of emergency response will come into play.
Networking among like-minded individuals, in my experience, has been very low-key, with everyone’s OPSEC in mind. I’d estimate 80% of the active participants being prepper on some level.
The order of care of self-family-neighbor-community is stressed at every class from the beginning. Our instructors said that if they never saw us again, they felt good because at least we would have the basics. BUT….There is always more (free) training available!
I strongly encourage everyone to participate!