In a major disaster, first responders who provide fire and medical services will most likely be overloaded by the high demand for their services. Factors such as number of victims, severity of situation, communication failures, and road blockages will prevent people from getting the emergency services support that they would normally get by calling 911. People will have to rely on each other for help in order to meet their immediate life-saving and life-sustaining needs. One also expects that under these kinds of conditions, family members, fellow employees, and neighbors will spontaneously try to help each other.
The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program educates volunteers about disaster preparedness so they will be ready to care for themselves and their neighbors during emergency situations, thereby promoting self-sufficiency in the aftermath of a disaster. Developed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the CERT program provides a consistent, nationwide curriculum and approach to preparedness training. The CERT program was designed as a grassroots initiative and specifically structured so that the local and state program managers have the flexibility to form their programs in the way that best suits their communities. CERT volunteers are trained to respond safely, responsibly, and effectively to emergency situations, but they can also support their communities during non-emergency events as well. Since 1993 when this training was made available nationally by FEMA, communities in 28 states and Puerto Rico have conducted CERT training. FEMA supports CERT by conducting or sponsoring Train-the-Trainer and Program Manager courses for members of the fire, medical and emergency management community. There are over 2,700 local CERT programs nationwide, with more than 600,000 individuals trained since CERT became a national program.
CERT Basic Training includes disaster response skills such as disaster preparedness, fire safety, light search-and-rescue, basic first aid, disaster medical operations, and incident management.
Once having completed the Basic Training, a graduate may, at their choosing, become a member of New Canaan CERT. As an organized team of volunteers, New Canaan CERT is overseen by a Board of Directors, who in turn, report to the Town’s Emergency Management Director. Volunteers will be asked to aid first responders when their agencies are overtaxed following a disaster or during a community planned event.
New Canaan CERT volunteers, following the CERT Basic Training, will be invited to train in such additional skills as traffic control, emergency sheltering, emergency operations center activities, and animal rescue/sheltering. Though New Canaan CERT volunteers are trained to respond following disasters, they may also support the New Canaan community during non-emergency, or “planned” events. These planned events enable CERT volunteers to practice their skills while addressing public safety in the community.
New Canaan CERT Mission Statement
To provide well trained volunteers to support EMS, Fire, PD and the EMD during a community emergency, or during planned events, when these agencies have exhausted their available resources. New Canaan CERT volunteers will provide needed manpower to aid in tasks such as disaster medical operations, pedestrian safety, traffic control, sheltering, family assistance, animal rescue/ sheltering and search and rescue. As part of a continuing education program, New Canaan CERT volunteers will be trained in such additional skills as radio communications, volunteer deployment, and the incident command system used by New Canaan’s Emergency Management Center.