Ron first heard about FEMA’s Community Emergency Response Team program just after the first class was offered in East Hanover. He immediately put his name on the wait list for the second class to be taught. Since completing his CERT training, Ron has become the CERT Manager in charge of activating the 5 CERT teams and their members when there is an emergency in town. He has participated in the annual crash training at Morristown Airport and is currently studying for his radio license to supplement communications during emergencies.
East Hanover Office of Emergency Management
The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Program educates people about disaster preparedness for 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. Using the training learned in the classroom and during exercises, CERT members can assist others in their neighborhood or workplace following an event when professional responders are not immediately available to help. CERT members also are encouraged to support emergency response agencies by taking a more active role in emergency preparedness projects in their community.
People who go through CERT training have a better understanding of the potential threats to their home, workplace and community and can take the right steps to lessen the effects of these hazards on themselves, their homes or workplace. If a disaster happens that overwhelms local response capability, CERT members can apply the training learned in the classroom and during exercises to give critical support to their family, loved ones, neighbors or associates in their immediate area until help arrives. When help does arrive, CERT team members provide useful information to responders and support their efforts, as directed, at the disaster site.
During the past year the East Hanover OEM has trained 52 CERT volunteer members to assist the municipality in the event of an emergency. Volunteers receive over 40 hours of specialized training which enables them to support the police, fire and first aid departments during an emergency.
CERT is about readiness, people helping people, rescuer safety, and doing the greatest good for the greatest number. CERT is a positive and realistic approach to emergency and disaster situations where citizens will be initially on their own and their actions can make a difference. Through training, citizens can manage utilities and put out small fires; give first aid such as opening airways, controlling bleeding, and treating for shock; provide basic medical aid; search for and rescue victims safely; and organize themselves and spontaneous volunteers to be effective.
The Community Emergency Response Team concept was developed and implemented by the Los Angeles City Fire Department (LAFD) in 1985. The Whittier Narrows earthquake in 1987 underscored the area-wide threat of a major disaster in California. Further, it confirmed the need for training civilians to meet their immediate needs. As a result, the LAFD created the Disaster Preparedness Division with the purpose of training citizens and private and government employees. In 1993 FEMA recognized and supported the CERT program. Training was made available nationally by FEMA and since that time communities in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico have organized CERT programs.
The CERT course will benefit any citizen who takes it. This individual will be better prepared to respond to and cope with the aftermath of a disaster. Additionally, if a community wants to supplement its response capability after a disaster, civilians can be recruited and trained as neighborhood, business, and government teams that, in essence, will be auxiliary responders. These groups can provide immediate assistance to victims in their area, organize spontaneous volunteers who have not had the training, and collect disaster intelligence that will assist professional responders with prioritization and allocation of resources following a disaster.