When disaster strikes, the capabilities of emergency personnel may be stretched to the limit. A Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) can effectively act as an extension of emergency services during your community's time of need. Setting up a CERT program before a disaster that is ready to act can be extremely valuable in providing life-saving aid until help arrives. CERT volunteers are trained in disaster management and survivor search and rescue, and can deliver life-sustaining medical care.
According to FEMA, there are currently 1,774 approved CERT programs operating nationwide.
Six Steps for Setting Up A CERT Program1. Determine your community's needs Your starting point in setting up a CERT program should be to complete a community disaster preparedness assessment. How will a CERT perform alongside emergency personnel? What kinds of roles can volunteers play in your neighborhood? What types of hazards does your community face? Remember: CERT members are not only helpful in an emergency situation; they can also play a crucial role in special community projects, such as distributing disaster supplies, acting as medical staff during local events and assisting community members with fire safety. 2. Identify your resources Assess how much setting up a CERT program will cost. Factors affecting cost can include the number of instructors that will be needed, facilities and equipment required, possible funding for events and program maintenance activities, etc. When it comes to funding, there are a few avenues to explore:
- Local funding
- Forming a 501(c)3 organization for non-profit status, which allows for fundraising