The Southern Marin CERT Teams are committed to providing leadership and service to the community we serve in the event of a disaster or other emergency. We will strive to provide training and support to our communities; and emergency response to aid our families, neighborhoods, and public safety professionals.
Simply put, Community Emergency Response Teams are groups of amateur emergency workers. CERT personnel receive basic training from emergency response professionals and work in the initial aftermath of a disaster to augment official emergency services. CERT members are not intended to replace a community's professional response capability, but rather to serve as an important supplement to it.
The Community Emergency Response Team concept was developed and implemented by the City of Los Angeles Fire Department in 1985. They recognized that citizens would very likely be on their own during the early stages of a catastrophic disaster. Accordingly, LAFD decided that some basic training in disaster survival and rescue skills would improve the ability of citizens to survive until professional responders or other assistance could arrive. The Whittier Narrows earthquake of 1987 underscored the threat of a major disaster in California and the need for training civilians in the CERT concept. As a result, LAFD created the Disaster Preparedness Division with the purpose of training citizens in CERT. That training proved to be so beneficial that the Federal Emergency Management Agency felt that the concept and the program should be made available to communities nationwide. With the cooperation of the LAFD, FEMA's Emergency Management Institute expanded the CERT training materials to make them applicable to all hazards.
Obviously, the best source of help in an emergency or disaster is the paid or volunteer professional responder. Unfortunately, professional responders such as fire departments and police are often overwhelmed in a major emergency.
For example, an average arrangement for a city of 100,000 people is to staff two police stations and five fire stations, with approximately 40 firefighters with 10 pieces of fire apparatus and 30 police on duty at any given time. This would be adequate for normal emergencies, rescues and crime control. The average emergency rescue is completed in less than 30 minutes and the rescuers outnumber the victims 4 to 1.
If a massive emergency such as an earthquake were to affect only two percent of the community, there are instantly 2,000 victims, many with injuries. If only professionals respond to this disaster, the results are devastating. 2,000 victims divided by 0.5 hours per rescue equals 1000 hours. With ten rescue trucks, that means there are 100 hours of rescues. As many as 3/4 of the victims could die waiting for rescue. After and hour and a half, shock victims would begin to die. After 24 hours, trapped children and elderly would begin to die of thirst. After 48 hours, otherwise healthy adults would begin to die. Most of these deaths could be prevented by early rescue and simple first aid. Community Emergency Response Teams can help fill the void.
According to Webster's Dictionary, a disaster is "any event that overwhelms existing resources to deal with the event." Disasters may be natural events such as earthquakes, fires, floods, or may be caused by human actions such as a terrorist act, civil disturbances, or hazardous materials incidents.
People naturally respond to disaster. Those who are not injured are more often than not drawn to help those who are. The "volunteerism" was particularly notable during disasters such as the Loma Prieta Earthquake, the Oakland Hills Fire, and the Northridge earthquake. People want to help. In the immediate aftermath of disaster, CERT's are far more effective than the average untrained citizen.
Community Emergency Response Teams are trained in basic emergency response procedures such as:
• Conducting an initial size-up of the situation in their immediate area
• Reducing immediate dangers by turning off utilities, suppressing small fires, and evacuating hazardous areas
• Performing immediate medical triage and basic treatment of injuries
• Assessing structural integrity and performing light search and rescue
• Collecting and recording vital information to be relayed to professional responders on damage, victims, and actions taken or resources needed
• Providing leadership to untrained volunteers
In a large scale disaster, self-reliance and the use of volunteers will be necessary. With this in mind, the Fire Departments and Districts in Marin County have undertaken a program of Community Emergency Response Training (CERT) for civilians.
A new CERT program and manual was developed under the auspices of the Marin County Disaster Council (DISCO) based on the Federal CERT program. The new County-wide program has been developed and implemented as of January 2011.
This course (15 hours) empasizes more hands-on experience, and will be taught to Marin County residents by Marin Fire Agency personnel. The intent is to train and prepare volunteers to achieve a higher level of basic skills in:
The Fire Departments and Districts in Southern Marin have joined together to teach the CERT program. Many class formats and locations throughout Marin are now available for this 15 hour series. Please refer to the county website at www.marincountycert.org for course scheduling, registration, questions and contact information.
All trainees receive a CERT manual. Upon completion, each trainee will receive a disaster service worker ID card, backpack with helmet, vest, eye protection, and a certificate of completion.
Cost: $30.00 per person;
Make checks payable to Marin County CERT, and mail along with the registration form to: Marin County CERT Coordinator, 1400 5th Ave., San Rafael, CA 94901
The form that CERT students fill out during the initial course is a standard State of California form. This form gets filled out and filed with the County OES office for many different reasons and job descriptions. One of which is the 'Community Disaster Service Worker'. After the student is 'sworn in', this form protects the disaster service worker from liabilites while performing their trained duties. It also entitles the disaster worker to workers compensation protection in the event of injury or illness occuring during the performance of their duties. It does not allow the State of California, or the Federal Government, to mandate a disaster worker to be available for disaster response. The CERT responder must be re-sworn every 4 years as per federal mandate.
There have been some concerns from CERT responders regarding this issue. Hopefully this answers those questions.