Friday, August 18, 2017

2017. Is your community, your neighbors prepared? CERT. FEMA. and community engagement.

What about CERT in your community?
Is there a program?
Is full inclusion encouraged?
If not start one.
Use the system to your advantage.  Why re-invent the wheel, when only new spokes are needed.

BEMA International

Prepareathon with DC CERT

The Washington, D.C. Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) sought to refresh its training and recruit new volunteers with a unique Prepareathon event.

In April 2017, Serve DC, which is part of the Mayor’s Office of Volunteerism, invited DC CERT members and the public to its office for a full day of emergency preparedness training and disaster simulation. The event covered active shooter training, disaster simulation and evaluation, refilling CERT bags, and hands-only CPR Training. The goals were to generate awareness for the city’s CERT program, recruit volunteers, and refresh the training of its current team members.

“We decided to ramp up our efforts in [support of Prepareathon],” said Anthony Stevens, Volunteer Engagement Director at Serve DC, “to use it as an opportunity for both recruitment and meeting some of our training goals.”

The DC CERT program began in 2004 and amassed roughly 140 members that deploy regularly. They work local events, like parades and national events, including the Presidential Inauguration. At the January 2017 Presidential Inauguration, 50 CERT members supplemented the District of Columbia Department of Human Services at warming stations. In their most recent deployment, 30 CERT members conducted wellness checks during a power outage at a senior living facility.
“The citizens cannot get enough of CERT,” Stevens said. “They recognize the vest, and they know who the CERT teams are. However, our city is ever changing. Folks are coming and going at such a rapid pace, [that] we are always [striving] to make sure that we are reintroducing ourselves at all times. We need to ensure that the new residents know who we are and what we stand for.”

More than 70 people participated in the April event, as well as 30 members of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) FEMA Corps.

The FEMA Corps is a full-time, team-based service program for men and women between the ages of 18–24, who dedicate themselves to disaster preparedness, response, and recovery. Stevens says Serve DC hopes to work with FEMA to provide CERT classes as part of the initial FEMA Corps training.
The DC CERT Prepareathon event made an impact internationally. A group of exchange students attended the exercise, and Stevens reports they want to bring emergency preparedness back to their home campuses in East Asia.

DC CERT members participate in the Serve DC Prepareathon event.

“It was a dynamic event,” Stevens said. “The response that we got from the community and the
appreciation shown by the CERT team [for the event] meant a lot to me.”

The day began with a lecture, including an active shooter presentation that defined the term “active
shooter,” and walked participants through how to act in such a situation. The program taught the “Run, Hide, Fight” response, which means either running to safety, hiding from a shooter or, as a last resort, fighting the assailant.

“We remind them to take the path of least resistance,” Stevens said. “We tried to keep it very basic
because most of these folks have heard the words active shooter, but they have never actually heard
anyone tell them what it is they should and should not be doing.”

Stevens pointed out that the active shooter training is just one step in training for the participants to
learn how to respond to stressful situations.

The disaster simulation portion of the event focused on fire suppression, search and rescue, cribbing or using wood to secure debris, triage simulation, as well as education on disaster medical treatment.

The CERT volunteers came from different teams in the Washington, D.C. area. Due to the number of
volunteers who participated, they formed groups with representatives from various CERT teams,
appointed leaders, and worked together on the mock response. Meanwhile, the non-CERT members
observed or acted as injured disaster survivors, and they learned how trained CERT volunteers

“That was an excellent recruitment tool,” Stevens said, “because a majority of the people there as
observers came back to our next CERT training that we had the following week, and others registered
for the one we have coming up in a couple of weeks. So, it was kind of like dangling the carrot in front of the rabbit.”  In fact, more than 40 people attended the following week’s CERT training and 16 others signed up for the next training.

At the end of the simulation, the teams received an evaluation with highlights of what went well and
what needs improvement. According to Stevens, the CERT members scored well, with an overall team

score of 37 out of a possible 50 points. They received high marks for their disaster medical treatment,
but they need improvement on triaging and carrying survivors.

“It was a definite success,” Stevens said. “We are hoping to do an exercise of some sort quarterly, so,
next April, if we aren’t doing the same thing, hopefully, we will be doing something even larger.”

For more information on Serve DC or DC CERT, visit

CERT - Community Emergency Response Team
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Prepareathon with DC CERT

The Washington, D.C. Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) sought to refresh its training and recruit new volunteers with a unique Prepareathon event.

Submit a Story for the CERT eBrief

Disclaimer: The reader recognizes that the federal government provides links and informational data on various disaster preparedness resources and events and does not endorse any non-federal events, entities, organizations, services or products. Please let us know about other events and services for individual and community preparedness that could be included in future newsletters by contacting
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