Disaster Volunteering and Preparedness
Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT)
Following a major disaster, first responders who provide fire and medical services cannot always meet the substantially increased demand for their services. Factors such as number of victims, communication failures and road blockages can prevent people from immediately accessing emergency services through 9-1-1.
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.
The CERT 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. As a result, the LAFD created the Disaster Preparedness Division with the purpose of training citizens to assist in times of disaster.