Major disasters stretch the resources of any city or county. It is estimated that regular emergency services will be unable to respond to most calls during the first 72 hours after a major disaster, such as a hurricane. The number of people who will need help and the inaccessibility of many neighborhoods due to damage and debris will prevent immediate professional aid. As a result, individuals and their communities need to be prepared to assist each other during these critical hours.
NEW! Teen CERT Training!
New program offered to students between the ages of 13-18. Download an application form and fax or mail it in.
What is a Community Emergency Response Team?
- A CERT is a group that is organized and receives special training that enhances their ability to recognize, respond to and recover from a major emergency or disaster situation.
- The CERT is organized under the leadership of the Alachua County Board of County Commissioners and the Fire Rescue Department (ACFR).
- They are trained by ACFR in areas that will help them take care of themselves and others before, during and after a major emergency.
- As an organized team, they can provide vital services in the absence of emergency responders, whose arrival may be delayed due to the scope of the event.
- When a major emergency overwhelms normally available resources, response delays of hours or even days may occur; someone with "basic skills training" should be able to immediately assist those in distress.
- CERT recognizes that a well-prepared community is a resource to professionals.
What Part Do the Team Members Play?
- Be better prepared to deal with events that might otherwise seem to be overwhelming.
- Recognize the potential hazards associated with a particular type of emergency and take appropriate action.
- Take steps to get to safety and/or help others to do so in an organized manner.
- Assume a leadership role with those who are not trained to deal with the event.
- Administer first aid and/or triage techniques.
- Perform needs assessment, document and communicate to local authorities.
- Assist others with the emotional distress associated with major emergencies and disaster conditions.
- Allow better allocation of emergency resources by being more capable of sizing up a situation and properly advising emergency responders.
Where Do We Find Team Members?
- Neighborhood/Homeowners' Associations
- County/Municipal Employees
- Apartment Complexes
- The Hotel/Motel Industry
- Businesses/Civic Groups
- Schools/Churches/Hospitals/ALFs/Nursing Homes
- Scouts/Civil Air Patrol
- University of Florida/Santa Fe Community College
- Anywhere People Live, Work and Interact!
How Are Team Members Trained?
Students attend seven (7) weekly classes given by Alachua County Fire Rescue Department instructors. Training includes the following topics:
- Disaster Preparedness
- Disaster Fire Suppression
- Disaster Medical Operations
- Light Search and Rescue
- Disaster Psychology and Team Organization
- CERT and Terrorism
Each weekly class lasts for two and a half hours and reading assignments are given at the end of class.
Video, slides and overhead materials support the lecture. Lecture time gives way to practical, tabletop and team building exercises.
A disaster simulation is staged to allow students to apply their newly acquired skills in a realistic environment with multiple casualties.
Upon successful completion, each team member receives a FEMA/EMI Training Certificate. Continuing Education is possible through FEMA Home Study Courses, Red Cross classes and numerous other sources.
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 fire; treat the three killers by 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.