The Community Emergency Response Team (C.E.R.T.) program helps train people to be better prepared to respond to emergency situations in their communities. When emergencies happen, C.E.R.T. members can give critical support to a first response crew, provide immediate assistance to victims, and organize spontaneous volunteers at a disaster site. C.E.R.T. members can also help with non-emergency projects that help improve the safety of the community.
The C.E.R.T. course is taught in the community by a trained team of first responders who have completed a C.E.R.T. Train-the-Trainer course conducted by their state training office for emergency management, or FEMA's Emergency Management Institute (EMI), located in Emmitsburg, Maryland. C.E.R.T. training includes disaster preparedness, disaster fire suppression, basic disaster medical operations, and light search and rescue operations.
Over the next two years, the C.E.R.T. program aims to double the number of participants, with over 400,000 individuals completing the 20-plus hours of training. Train-the-Trainer sessions will be held in all 50 states and six territories over the next year to expand the program throughout the United States.
The Village of Niles has six Train-the-Trainer instructors, two police officers, two fire fighters, and two civilians. The Niles Citizen Corp sponsored the first C.E.R.T. class in the fall of 2004 and winter of 2005 and continues to hold classes annually. The participants completed a grueling 32 hours of training which resulted in 75 graduates of the program.