Following a major disaster, first responders who
provide fire and medical services will not be able
to meet all the demand for these services.
Factors as number of victims, communication
failures, and road blockages will prevent people
from accessing emergency services they have
come to expect in a short time period through
911. People will have to rely on each other for
help in order to meet their immediate life saving
and life sustaining needs.
One also expects that under these kinds of
conditions, family members, fellow employees,
and neighbors will spontaneously try to help each
other. This was the case following the Mexico City
earthquake where untrained, spontaneous volunteers saved 800
people. However, 100 people lost their lives while attempting to save
others. This is a high price to pay and is preventable through training.
If we can predict that emergency services will not meet immediate
needs following a major disaster, especially if there is no warning and
people will spontaneously volunteer, what can government do to
prepare citizens for this eventuality?
First, present citizens the facts about what to expect following a major
disaster in terms of immediate services. Second, give the message
about their responsibility for mitigation and preparedness. Third, train
them in needed life saving skills with emphasis on decision making
skills, rescuer safety, and doing the greatest good for the greatest
number. Fourth, organize teams so that they are an extension of first
responder services offering immediate help to victims until professional
The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Program
educates people about disaster preparedness for hazards that may
impact their community and trains them in basic disaster response
skills, such as:
- fire safety
- light search and rescue
- team organization
- 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.
San Luis Valley CERT members will participate in a 20-24 hour training
session to prepare them to meet the immediate needs of their
communities in the event of a disaster. Families, neighborhoods,
social groups, schools, and businesses are encouraged to create
teams of their own. Contact Sue Davis, SLV Citizen Corps Coordinator,
if you are interested in starting a CERT.
|Community Emergency Response Team (CERT)