The Federal Emergency Management Agency, using the model created by the Los Angeles City Fire Department, began promoting nationwide use of the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) concept in 1994. Since then, CERTs have been established in hundreds of communities.
CERT team members plan their route for a practice search and rescue exercise before departing from the Command Post. Teams of 4 people typically comprise a search team. Pictured above, L to R, are Rachel Larson, Jan Lyell, Jim Lilje, Dick Danielson and Kim Nelson.
CERT training promotes a partnering effort between emergency services - Vashon Island Fire Rescue (VIFR) as well as the King County Sheriff - and the people that they serve. The goal is for emergency personnel to train community members in basic response skills including search and rescue, disaster response, first aid and light fire suppression.
If a disastrous event overwhelms or delays the community’s professional response, CERT members can assist others by applying the basic response and organizational skills that they learned during training. These skills can help save lives following a disaster. CERT skills also apply to household and business emergencies.
CERT members maintain and refine their skills at periodic trainings. Trainings include rehearsal of search procedures both in the outdoors and in buildings, hands-on practice of seldom-used but critical first aid skills, enrichment topics such as orienteering, map reading and HAM radio training, and many options for attending related trainings from the Red Cross and other organizations.