CERT and NERT - emergency preparedness strategies

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What CAN we do together?

220,000 of us in the Eugene/Springfield Metro Area.

300,000 of us in Lane County

3 million Oregonians

250+ million Americans...

At this late date, the best it seems that we might expect to gracefully accomplish as a community is to prepare for disaster and emergency response - first, to not need assistance and second, to provide it if it's needed. As Paloma O'Riley says "Individual Preparedness is for those who can; Community Preparedness is for those who can't."

I have suggested that focus remain tight on the CERT (Citizens Emergency Response Training) and NERT (Neighborhood Emergency Response Training) programs and have found some links to those that I include below.

The following is a suggested shortcut that tends to cut through confusion and misplaced responsibility, since several folk have told me that they're finding bottlenecks at odd places in their communities, via people who have been "put in charge" but don't really know what to do yet:

1) Work with your county emergency management services, through your sheriff.

2) Focus on all official neighborhoods and legally defined municipalities and organizations within the county. Metro areas are still managed with county services in an emergency.

3) Identify persons from the smallest official community unit who will help with emergency services.

4) Institute Training-for-Trainers programs immediately in CERT and NERT, through emergency services coordinated by your County government.

5) Get as many quality people through the training-for-trainers ASAP - be sensitive to gender, cultural and ethnic diversities in order to maximize communication and overall longterm mandate.

6) Primary goal: have trainers then train and *certify* 2-3 people from every official neighborhood, and as many as possible from unofficial community and interest groupings or businesses ASAP.

This process can move a number of people rapidly through a federal format that already exists and whose purpose - helping in an emergency - is widely agreed upon as a necessity. It supplies the larger system with "certified personnel" who have been exposed to the basics of self-help and emergency response and are less likely to cause harm with their helping than untrained people.

The technology we are surrounded by today demands that we be trained in proper handling of potentially dangerous materials or situations. The process of self-identification and self-training in the community will organically build the connections between people that are sorely needed at this time.

The quality response we want can be found in the tight and unprejudicial focus on an outcome that meets the needs of both individuals and groups. The practice of connecting in a neutral environment with a clearly useful goal will serve all of us well.

Hopefully Lane County will be evolving this type of project focus in short order!


Some sites that may help:

Excellent CERT purpose overview: http://www.fema.org/emi/cert/orland4.htm This page is for Orlando, Florida's hurricane response strategies.

This site has downloadable copies of the CERT student training manual

San Francisco's NERT - Neighborhood Emergency Response Team - page. Through this link you'll see the mission statement, training manual, and other organizational documents that you may want to model your group efforts after.

This shows up lots of places, but bears repeating: Red Cross disaster preparation guide. It includes farm animal and pet response actions, along with a very complete checklist for people with different types of disabilities.


The Search and Rescue site has fascinating information regarding disaster prep and response for many different types of circumstances. They've done an incredible job, and I'd recommend a visit or two through the site before you spend too much time on anything else besides CERT and NERT in your area.

-- Cynthia Beal (cabeal@efn.org), January 28, 1999


Minnesota Department of Public Safety
Division of Emergency Management - Y2K & Emergency Management

"Y2K & Emergency Management" Packet Available
The Minnesota Department of Emergency Management has released a packet of info to assist local emergency managers and others contingency planners with their Y2K-related work. The packet, entitled "Y2K & Emergency Management: Information for Community Preparedness", defines the role of emergency management in Y2K and provides clear steps for incorporating Y2K considerations into your existing disaster plan. Topics include:

Click here to download the "Y2K & Emergency Management" info packet (PDF format, approx. 1.4 MB. Requires a free Acrobat Reader for viewing - available here.)

-- Bill (billdale@lakesnet.net), February 09, 1999.

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