Community Emergency Response Team (CERT)
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“Don’t be scared, be prepared!" Thank you for your interest in the City of Balch Springs Emergency Response Team (CERT) program. We Hope this information helps answer your questions regarding the CERT program, how it will benefit you and your community, and what is involved in becoming a CERT volunteer.
“To do the greatest amount of good for the greatest number of people”
What is CERT?
The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program educates citizens regarding disaster preparedness relative to hazards that could impact our area, and provides basic disaster response skills training. These skills include fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations. Once trained, CERT members can assist others in their neighborhoods, workplace or in other communities following incidents 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 your community. CERT is one of five organizations that operate under the Citizens Corps, the nationwide grass roots movement that encourages all Americans to help make their communities – and the nation – safer, stronger, and better prepared for all types of hazards and threats through active volunteerism.
Why should I take CERT training?
Your community's professional responders are well trained and prepared to handle everyday emergencies. However, large-scale emergencies or disasters could easily overwhelm our response capabilities, resulting in possible delays. The primary reason for CERT training is to give people the decision-making, organizational, and practical skills to help them provide immediate assistance to family members, neighbors, and associates until the professional responders can arrive. While many people will respond to those in need without the proper training, the goal of the CERT program is to train and organize our volunteers thoroughly. With this knowledge, they can assist effectively and efficiently – without placing themselves in unnecessary danger.
What kind of training is required to become a CERT volunteer?
To become a CERT member, you need to complete the "core" CERT training program. Our training program will consist of approximately 30 hours. All sessions will be taught by trained emergency responders or trained instructors. During these sessions, you will learn basic emergency response techniques, including emergency medical/first aid, fire safety, search and rescue techniques, response to emergency incidents and more.
Who can take CERT training?
Naturals for the training program are participants of neighborhood watch programs, community organizations, communities of faith, school staff, workplace employees, scouting organization leaders and other group participants that come together regularly for a common purpose. Regardless of your background, you are welcome to participate if you are willing to "get involved" in your community and have no physical limitations.
Can I still participate as a CERT volunteer?
Absolutely! There are many tasks within a CERT program for citizens who want to be involved and help. Following a disaster, CERT members are needed for documentation, comforting others, logistics, etc. Non-disaster related team activities might include keeping databases, developing a Website, planning activities, logistics, helping with special events and organizing exercises and activities.
Are there costs involved?
There is no charge to register and attend the classes.
How will the CERT program benefit me and my community?
CERT-trained citizens have a better understanding of potential threats to their homes, workplace and community and can take the proper steps to lessen the vulnerability of these hazards. When a disaster happens that overwhelms local response capabilities, CERT Members can apply their training to give critical support to their families, neighbors or associates in the immediate area until help arrives. When help does arrive, CERT members provide useful information to responders and support their efforts, as directed at the disaster site. For example, one CERT success story comes from events during recent hurricanes that took place in Florida. Local CERT members, along with members who traveled in from all parts of the country assisted emergency management, fire department and police department personnel by helping with evacuations, handling donations, preparing food for first responders, answering phones and a host of other tasks to assist the professional responders. This is a great example of CERT members and emergency response personnel working together for the benefit of the community. CERT members can also volunteer to assist with non-emergency projects that benefit the community. CERT members have distributed disaster education materials, and provided services at civic events, such as festivals, parades, sporting events, and more.
What do I do next?
Just complete the PDF -or- Online Volunteer application form along with the Volunteer Agreement form and the Disclosure and Authorization for Background Investigation.
Please feel free to contact the Fire Department for any questions that you may have.
Who should I contact for more information on the CERT program?
The City of Balch Springs Community Emergency Response Team program coordinator is Balch Springs Fire Chief Eric J. Neal.