Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT)

The Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) is an opportunity for people to help their communities prepare for and respond to emergencies. This team helps manage disaster situations until emergency personnel are able to respond. Volunteers learn life-saving techniques and organizational skills, basic medical aid, rescue techniques, and other disaster relief skills. Volunteers then pass this knowledge along to their family and friends. The goal is to educate their communities in emergency preparedness techniques.

The CERT course better prepares people 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.

The Wheeling-Ohio County CERT team has trained several organizations in the county. The staff of West Liberty State College, Oglebay Park, Florence Crittenton Services, and Wheeling Housing Authority have all gone through the CERT course.

CERT seeks to educate people about disaster preparedness for hazards that might affect their area and train people in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations.

The Community Emergency Response Team program, now a component of the Citizen Corps program, was developed by the Los Angeles City Fire Department in 1985. The Whittier Narrows earthquake in 1987 underscored the threat of a major disaster in California. Further, it confirmed the need for training civilians to meet their immediate needs. As a result, the fire department created the Disaster Preparedness Division, whose purpose is to train citizens and private and government employees.

The training program helps citizens understand their responsibility in preparing for disaster. It also increases their ability to safely help themselves, their family, and their neighbors. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recognizes the importance of preparing citizens. The Emergency Management Institute and the National Fire Academy adopted and expanded the CERT materials, believing them applicable to all hazards.

Since 1993 when CERT training was made available nationally by FEMA, communities in 28 states and Puerto Rico have conducted the training.

The Wheeling–Ohio County Emergency Management Agency is looking for volunteers to establish Community Emergency Response Teams throughout Ohio County. The agency will provide the training. The CERT training is not limited to community residents and organizations, but can be provided to businesses or government agencies as employee in-service or continuing education.

If you or your organization would like to receive more information about the Wheeling–Ohio County CERT program please contact us. To schedule a training session, download an application (Word document application) and mail back to the address provided at the bottom of the page.

The training takes approximately 16 to 20 hours to complete and can be adapted to be given over several days or several weeks. Training is free. It consists of the following:

Disaster preparedness
Disaster fire suppression
Disaster medical operations part I & II
Light search & rescue
Terrorism and CERT
Disaster psychology & team organization

8:00 – 8:30 Introduction & Overview
8:30 – 9:30 Disaster Preparedness
9:30 – 9:45 Break
9:45 – 11:15 Fire Safety (classroom & exercise)
11:15 – 12:15 Lunch
12:15 – 1:45 Disaster Medical Operations – Part 1
1:45– 2:00 Break
2:00– 3:30 Disaster Medical Operations – Part 2
3:30– 4:00 Review

8:00 – 10:00 Terrorism and CERT
10:00– 10:15 Break
10:15– 11:15 Disaster Psychology
11:15– 12:15 Lunch
12:15 – 1:15 CERT Organization
1:15 – 1:30 Break
1:30– 3:00 Light Search and Rescue Operations
3:00– 3:30 Course Review and Test
3:30– 4:00 Closing Remarks and Graduation