The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program is an official emergency preparedness program of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The goal of the CERT program is to educate and prepare people for all types of emergencies and disasters. Members of CERT learn skills that will help in aiding first responders in the event of a large-scale emergency. The CERT program functions as a partnership between the City of Laurel and community agencies in Maryland. CERT’s functions help Laurel plan, prepare, respond, and recover from to emergencies. These important functions include emergency planning, coordinating with other agencies, developing tabletop exercises, reviewing disaster plans, and enhancing communication.
The City of Laurel is well prepared for all types of emergencies. However, disasters such as tornadoes, floods, and snow or summer storms can cause heavy damage across a large area. Professional emergency first responders may become overwhelmed by the number and scope of incidents within the disaster area. CERT members play a key role in the response to such disasters by helping victims who cannot be immediately treated by professionals.
It is essential that volunteers are properly trained to do what is asked of them. If not, they are putting themselves, as well as those they are trying to help, in danger. The safety of CERT volunteers is a top priority. To help ensure their safety, CERT volunteers attend a seven-session, 2½ hour course taught by a team of first responders. The volunteers are trained in basic fire suppression, first aid, search & rescue, and disaster preparedness. In addition to using skills learned in CERT training during emergencies, volunteers will be able to use their preparedness training in the home and workplace to help others prepare for emergencies.
It is important to remember that CERT members are not professional emergency responders and they only respond to situations where professionals are unable to immediately respond to all who need help.
The following agencies have contributed their time and expertise to guiding the development of this initiative:
- Prince George's County CERT
- Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
- Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA)
- American Red Cross
- Prince George's County Office of Emergency Management
- City of Laurel Department of Emergency Services
- Laurel Police Department
- Laurel Volunteer Fire Department
- Laurel Volunteer Rescue Squad