Community Matters: Join Your Local CERT Team!

You are Not Alone

Whatever type of disaster you are prepping for, one thing is certain:  you are not alone.  Even if you live in a rural area, you are part of a community.  On the show “Doomsday Preppers”, some prepped for total collapse situations (which they refer to as TEOTWAWKI-The End Of The World As We Know It) where they felt that they would have to hide in their bunkers with 50 years of stockpiled food, and fight off the desperate souls who were coming for their preps.  What kind of life is that?  It makes for good tv, but that is a very unlikely situation.  We are much more likely to encounter a million other disaster situations before we encounter one such as that.

Strength in Numbers

Personally, I would rather be a friend to my neighbors.  I prefer to be surrounded by people I know I can depend on, and who know they can depend on me.  Wouldn’t it be easier to sleep at night knowing that your neighbors have your back?  Yes, I prep to take care of my family first, but I am also thinking of my extended family, my neighbors, friends, and my community.  It can feel overwhelming at times, but the key is, when we are all prepared, we can rely on each other in an emergency.  There is strength in numbers.

It is a scary thought to think that in an emergency, YOU may be the help that someone is looking for.  Many disasters cause roads to be blocked by debris, or flooded, so that emergency vehicles such as fire trucks and ambulances cannot reach your neighborhood.

CERT volunteers
Neighbors helping neighbors

Support for Our First Responders

Most cities have only enough EMTs and emergency vehicles (firetrucks, ambulance) to handle day to day emergencies.  If a disaster strikes, they usually have to recruit vehicles and personnel from nearby cities.  But what if they can’t get into your neighborhood?

Remember Hurricane Katrina?  It didn’t matter how many ambulances they had, the city was flooded, and people were sitting on the rooftops of their homes!  We were all totally unprepared for that type of disaster, so it took time to get boats and helicopters to deploy for rescue.

For reasons like these, I believe that we have a personal responsibility to be prepared to take care of ourselves as best we can.  We cannot afford to rely on the professionals, or the government to save us.  The good news is, the government has set aside funding to provide training programs for us!  It is called the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT).  CERT is a federally funded training program designed to teach civilians how to respond in a local emergency.

I am going through the training myself.  My favorite thing about CERT (besides the fact that it’s free!), is that their primary goal is to teach us how to take care of ourselves, and our families FIRST.  They would love if everyone could become a volunteer who can respond during a disaster.  However, if they teach even just one more person how to be more self reliant during an emergency, then that is one less person they have to worry about during a crisis.

CERT fire
CERT fire training

 

Preparing as a Community Matters

As a single mother of two, my kids are dependent on me to take care of them.  If something were to happen to me, I want the peace of mind that they will know what to do in an emergency.  Who knows, we may just save a life one day.  This type of training is critical for our safety and well being…even if we never have to use it.

My second favorite thing about CERT is that it teaches us how to respond in an organized way. During the 9/11 disaster, hundreds of well meaning volunteers showed up to help. Although their intentions were good, they caused delays for professional emergency responders by getting in the way.  The lack of organization caused even more chaos, and many people died before they could be helped.

Remember, if you aren’t able to become an active volunteer, you may just find yourself in a situation where someone (your family, your neighbor, or complete stranger) is relying on you for help.  If you are in a situation where help is unlikely to arrive, wouldn’t you rather be prepared, and confident in your abilities to handle such a situation?  The next time you are travelling on a long road, miles from the nearest town, and come upon a car accident:  there is no cell signal, no help will be arriving.  YOU are the help.  You are either prepared to deal with that, or not.  I would rather be prepared.

Is Your Community Prepared?

If you are lucky enough to live in a county that has a CERT team, I highly recommend you become a part of it.  The fact that you are even reading this means that you would be an excellent asset to your community.

To find out if your county runs a CERT program, click here.

If they don’t have one, tell them you want one.  This is part of being a good citizen.  I firmly believe that our greatest strength as a nation lies in our strong communities.  Communities are only strong when we get together and work as a team.  Taking care of ourselves and our families first is part of that.  When our family is strong, then our community is strong.  Let’s build stronger communities!