Establish a team of volunteers who can assist first responders in times of crisis and emergencies
Municipalities can establish a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) to enhance public safety in the local community. We know first-hand that emergencies happen anytime or anywhere, whether natural or otherwise, and it is necessary to have trained people who can help immediately. Volunteers are trained in a wide variety of skills, including, but not limited to: emergency preparedness, disaster medical operations, fire suppression, and terrorism awareness.
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Policy Memo Re: Establishing a Community Emergency Response Team
Establishing a local Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) is an effective way to enhance emergency response in a municipality with virtually no cost and it is a great way to get citizens involved in the public safety of their community. The CERT program was created in response to the overwhelming amount of issues that first responders would have to deal with in times of crisis. Volunteers get trained in a wide range of skills, allowing them to be utilized for many different types of emergencies.
The CERT program is a federal program, operated at the state and local level, designed to train citizens to aid in emergency response. The program was started by the Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) after it recognized that local emergency responders would be overwhelmed in cases of large emergencies. The LAFD saw that basic survival and disaster training would help communities respond better to such emergencies, and possibly save more lives in the process. The program was adopted nationally by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in the wake of the 9-11 tragedy, as a component of the Citizen Corps program, and adapted to address all types of hazards on a local level.
Today, there are a large number of CERTs established in municipalities across New Jersey and the nation. In New Jersey, the CERT program is operated under the Citizen Corps umbrella, followed by North and South regional coordinators, county coordinators, and local officials. These officials oversee the operation of the program, including, among other things, training and funding. New Jersey receives federal grant money for the program, which local chapters can apply for. These funds are distributed based on population and activity levels, although some chapters have found other sources of funding. (fn1) These funds are used to cover the costs for training volunteers and materials.
Members of the local community who are over 18 years old can be tapped to participate in the CERT program, and all receive free training. Training consists of 20 hours of instruction over an eight-week period, and is taught by local emergency responders, including firefighters, emergency medical personnel and law enforcement personnel. Volunteers will gain a wide variety of skills, including, but not limited to: emergency preparedness, disaster medical operations, fire suppression, and terrorism awareness.
It is clear that establishing a CERT is a great way to enhance public safety in the local community. We know first-hand that emergencies happen anytime or anywhere, whether natural or otherwise, and it is necessary to have trained people who can help immediately.
fn1- Some chapters have successfully established their CERT as non-profit organizations, which allows them to seek outside funding.
MODEL RESOLUTION ESTABLISHING A COMMUNITY EMERGENCY RESPONSE TEAM (CERT)
WHEREAS, the Governing Body of (Municipality) recognizes the need for enhanced emergency response resources in the wake of recent, unprecedented, natural disasters in the state of New Jersey and the likelihood that such events will increasingly occur; and
WHEREAS, first responders to such natural disasters, and other emergencies, have to address often overwhelming circumstances in emergency situations; and
WHEREAS, the Federal government has established the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program under its Citizen Corps, a subsidiary of the USA Freedom Corps created by Executive Order 13254 in 2002; and
WHEREAS, the Governing Body of (Municipality) has the authority to establish a CERT that can be trained to help first responders and address various needs in the event of an emergency; and
WHEREAS, the Federal government offers resources to assist in the establishment and maintenance of a CERT team, including Federal grants through the Department of Homeland Security which fund CERT councils in each County which provide materials for training and certification of CERT team members; and
WHEREAS, (Municipality) has an Office of Emergency Management (OEM) coordinator or a Mayoral appointee designated, to establish and oversee a CERT team;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, the Governing Body of (Municipality) of the (County) of the State of New Jersey tasks the Municipal Office of Emergency Management (OEM) Coordinator (or another designee) to establish and oversee a CERT.