CERT - Community Emergency Response Team
What would you do if you find yourself in a disaster or an emergency situation?
Introducing CERT to Belmont Heights
CERT is a nation-wide, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) program locally managed by dedicated staff in the San Mateo Consolidated Fire Department (SMCFD). CERT teaches ordinary people to assist their neighbors in the event of a disaster and to support first responders.
The CERT program educates people about disaster preparedness for hazards that may impact their area, and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations.
Using the training learned in the classroom and during exercises, CERT volunteers (“CERTs”) can assist others in their neighborhood or workplace following an event when professional responders are not immediately available to help.
The CERT Program is a dynamic community of volunteers who want to help their neighbors!
Why BHCIA believes CERT is (or should be) important to Belmont Heights neighbors
Belmont Heights is serviced by only Hallmark Dr. with the Hallmark Dr. barrier gate serving as a backup. In case of a major earthquake or a fire, Belmont Heights may effectively become an island for an unknown period of time.
This is where your CERT training may come in handy, as you will have learned the basics of:
Disaster medical: methods to stop bleeding, open a blocked airway, head-to-toe assessments, burn treatment, hypothermia, triage, medical station setup…
Fire: deciding when and how to use a fire extinguisher, recognizing and avoiding hazardous materials, know when and when not to turn off utilities
Search and rescue: assessing building damage severity, deciding to attempt rescue, how to lift and carry injured people, cribbing/leveraging…
Psychology: team well being, survivors’ trauma
CERT may be activated after a major disaster if local and regional emergency services are overwhelmed. CERTs should take care of family and neighbors first, and only then respond to the activation if they feel comfortable doing so.
CERT would be typically activated by the chief of FD/PD or the FEMA chain of command. Individual CERTs would converge on a meeting place, but only if they can and want to.
If CERT (the organization) formally activates CERTs (the individuals) and the volunteer accepts, that CERT temporarily falls under the FEMA command structure and SOPs (standard operating procedures).
Distinct from a formal CERT activation are periodic requests for volunteers to help local (tri-city) FDs/PDs with things like traffic or crowd management, light searches, promoting of the concept of preparedness at public events, etc.
Becoming a CERT is Easy!
The CERT certification class consists of 7 once-a-week evening classes (with homework) followed by a 1-day practice day (“Skills Day”). The entire course takes 8-10 weeks to complete. Continuing Education is offered after the CERT certification.
CERT Class Registration (when classes have been scheduled)
The classes are taught in Belmont, San Mateo or Foster City several times a year. The most recent class started in September. Announcements will be made once the dates of the next class are available.
Other CERT Resources
SMCFD’s CERT page for Belmont, Foster City and San Mateo