The Power of Community
Jan 08, 2013 10:41AM
● By tina
Resolve to become part of Southlake's CERT team this year
City View by John Terrell, Mayor of Southlake
The New Year always brings the promise of new beginnings and New Year’s resolutions. We’ve all made the promise to drop a few pounds or to take up a new hobby, but I have a different resolution in mind this year. 2012 was another devastating year for disasters across the United States. While the economic losses from these disasters will amount to billions of dollars, you cannot ignore the loss and disruption to life and property that events like Hurricane Sandy brought to the country. Countless east-coast residents lived without power and supplies for weeks and many lost their homes and even their lives. Events like this are a clear reminder that we need to resolve to be more prepared for the unexpected in 2013.
In the event of a disaster, it could be days before first responders are able to get to you to provide assistance due to impassable roads and an overwhelming number of calls for assistance. In Southlake, we bridge that gap of time between the disaster and the arrival of first responders with Community Emergency Response Teams, or CERTs.
The Community Emergency Response Team concept was developed and implemented by the Los Angeles City Fire Department (LAFD) in 1985. The training program that LAFD initiated made good sense and furthered the process of citizens understanding their responsibility in preparing for disaster. It also increased their ability to safely help themselves, their family and their neighbors. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) also recognized the importance of preparing citizens. The Emergency Management Institute (EMI) and the National Fire Academy adopted and expanded the CERT materials to apply them to all hazards and all locations. Since 1993 when this training was made available nationally by FEMA, communities in 28 States and Puerto Rico have conducted CERT training.
In a disaster setting, over 80% of citizens make successful rescues as they assist their friends, family and neighbors following a disaster. Despite this highly celebrated statistic, untrained volunteer rescuers can sometimes do more harm than good, and potentially injure themselves in the process. CERTs are made up of specially trained members of the community who deploy in emergency situations to provide immediate assistance to their neighborhood in a safe, organized manner.
CERT members participate in an eight-week training class where they receive training in areas such as disaster preparedness, fire safety, disaster medical operations, light search and rescue, disaster psychology, terrorism, and team organization. Following the conclusion of the course, members participate in a live disaster simulation exercise that tests their newfound skills.
The City of Southlake has been a proud sponsor of the CERT program since the early 2000’s and continues to graduate new members each year. While we have a dedicated team of CERT members trained and ready to respond at a moment’s notice, our strength lies in our numbers. I encourage you to resolve in this new year to make a commitment to your community and sign up for the CERT program. Class starts on January 9, 2013 and meets each Wednesday through February 27th. If you cannot participate in this class, please submit your application for the next class. Spaces go fast and you do not want to miss out.
Even if you cannot devote the time to participating in a CERT class, we can resolve to work together in 2013 to increase our preparedness for emergencies so that if the unthinkable does happen, we are better prepared to face and overcome our challenges.
See you in Southlake
For more information about Southlake CERT and how to get involved, please visit City of Southlake - CERT. For more information about the City's other volunteer programs, please visit City of Southlake - Volunteer Southlake.