"CERT", as it is called, is short for "Community Emergency Response Team". Each CERT person is organized and trained in accordance with standard operating procedures developed by the sponsoring agency which, in our case, is San Bernadino County Offices of Emergency Services, and San Bernardino Fire Department.
San Bernardino County is the largest county in California. Yes, we are in the desert, it is a sparsely populated area with clusters of small towns and horse farms. Also known as the “High Desert” [ altitude between 3,000 and 4,200 ft.] We are known to be located in the "Inland Empire'' section, the lower south-eastern portion of California.
The CERT Program can provide an effective first-response capability. Acting as individuals first, then later as a member of teams. Being so rural, we have different challenges than the people who live in a big city like Los Angeles.
When a “Disaster” strikes, such as, damage caused by earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, wild fires and/or flooding. The devastation caused by a natural disaster of such magnitude, would probably encompass a large area and, most people would agree that each of these events, would impact every one of us in some way. However, an accident caused by man, such as a gas explosion, oil truck accident, train or plane wreck, would these events affect us? The answer is yes, remember, disasters come in all sizes. Can we agree that a disaster affects more than just us? Since everyone, in some ways, is affected, from government services to private businesses, to civic activities and to ourselves. Any one of these can weigh heavily on our emergency response resources.This could create a larger situation, by damaged roads, or train rails, bridges or disrupted communications can any or all of these restrict the access of emergency responses? Yes, when communications, or transportation, and/or, utilities are affected, these will compromise the professional emergency resources to many individuals or neighborhoods resulting in them to be cut off from outside support. To have any of these compromised means someone or a whole neighberhood may be without help for somewhere in the time frame of one to three days. In some cases, it has been recorded that some individuals and neighborhood’s have been without food, water, first-aid, fire protection and shelter for up to three weeks or even longer. It is without question that, an individuals preparedness, planning, knowledge of survival skills, and mutual co-operation within our neighborhoods and work places will have an affect during this initial period and is essential for coping with the aftermath of a disaster. What you do today, will have a critical impact on the quality of your survival and your ability to help others safely and effectively. Emergency services personnel such as a trained CERT are the best trained and equipped to handle emergencies when the professionals are not available. Following a catastrophic disaster you and the community may be on your own for a period of time because of the size of the area affected, lost communications, and impassable roads, whether it is caused by a natural event or from something man made. Your CERT Basic Training is designed to prepare you to help yourself and to help others in the event of a catastrophic disaster. Your CERT training can make a difference when emergency service personnel will not be able to help everyone immediately, YOU CAN!
The Certs are also trained to set up what is called a staging area. This is where the fire department and other services will interact with Certs, who happen to find themselves first on the scene. Having a centralized contact point makes it possible to communicate damage assessments and allocate volunteer resources more effectively. This is true for all Certs, whether active in a neighborhood, workplace, school, college/university campus, or any other venue.
We are also active in the community to help where needed, for community events. We also have our own events such as fund raisers and extra training but, our biggest event is in October every year. We call it “The Shakeout” short for “The California Shakeout” when all of California participates in Disaster Preparedness. This event involves, Morongo Basin First responders, Businesses, Utility Companies, Animal Clinic and Animal Rescue people and anyone else that can provide information and or shows demonstrations about what they do or you can do in the event of a disaster. This shows how the community pulls together in a disaster. Everyone has a job to do. Everyone will be needed.