After September 11, 2001, America witnessed a wellspring of selflessness and heroism. People in every corner of the country asked, "What can I do?" and "How can I help?" A group named Citizen Corps was created to help all Americans answer these questions through public education and outreach, training, and volunteer service.
Citizen Corps has five programs where citizens may volunteer to be of service in their local areas. The five programs are Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), Fire Corps, Medical Reserve Corps, Neighborhood Watch (USAonwatch.org), and Volunteers in Police Service (VIPS). For information on all of these programs go online to www.citizencorps.gov
The group that I want to discuss with you today is the CERT program. CERT educates people about disaster preparedness for hazards that may impact their area and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations. CERT members also are encouraged to support emergency response agencies by taking a more active role in emergency preparedness projects in their community.
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. 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.
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 fires; 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.
To find and join a CERT group in your area, go online at www.citizencorps.gov, click on programs and then CERT. You will be asked to enter the zip code for your area. Thank you for helping your community.