Are you interested in self-reliance and helping your neighbors during an emergency? Do you want training in disaster preparedness, first aid, fire suppression, disaster psychology, light search and rescue, natural disasters, terrorist incidents, and team organization? Would you be excited to test that training as a hands-on responder in a disaster simulation? Would you like a free hard hat and reflective vest? If so, Lexington’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program may be for you!
The Division of Emergency Management (DEM), in conjunction with the Division of Fire and Emergency Services, sponsors Lexington’s CERT program. CERT is a national initiative developed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The program’s goal is to develop neighborhood teams that are equipped with the skills they need to help themselves and their neighbors if a disaster occurs. During a disaster, police, fire, and emergency medical personnel are likely to be overwhelmed with requests for help. CERT teams use their knowledge and skills to help the people in their neighborhoods until our professional responders can get to them.
CERT members also serve a valuable role in helping Lexington respond to and recover from disasters and emergencies. For example, during Lexington’s response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in the fall of 2005 (we housed over 1,000 self-evacuees and received a planeload of medical evacuees), CERT members were asked to go on 24-hour standby to help us receive medical evacuees at the airport or at the Emergency Operations Center. Of the 54 people trained in the CERT program at that time, 32 volunteered to help us. Four brave and tired CERT souls helped first responders and emergency management professionals at the airport from 3:00 a.m. until well after lunch on the day we received patient evacuees.
CERT also assists DEM and other local agencies with non-emergency operations. Team members serve as observers and “victim” roleplayers during the annual CSEPP exercise. They participate in community outreach at a variety of public events where DEM has a presence. Through CERT, team members have the opportunity for additional training in areas such as weather spotting, damage assessment, moulage, and amateur radio operations. As you can see, the ways CERT folks can help Lexington during a disaster are virtually limitless!
Since its inception, Fayette County’s CERT program has trained 311 people in 23 classes. 238 currently are active in our program. If you’d like to be a part of our next CERT class, use the contact information below to get in touch with us.
Training Schedule: Twice annually, once in March-April and once in September-October. Classes are one evening a week for nine weeks.
Eligibility: CERT volunteers must be 18 years old and must live or work in Fayette County. Due to some aspects of CERT’s mission, a criminal background check is required.
Contact: Shelley Bendall at (859) 280-8063 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on the national CERT program, visit FEMA’s CERT resource pages.
To see previous CERT classes in action during their disaster exercises, visit our Flickr feed.
For a graduate’s perspective on CERT and disabilities, read the article on page 7 of the July 2007 KCCVS newsletter.
If you’re curious as to whether your neighbors already have CERT training, take a look at a map showing the locations of Fayette County CERT members..