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To prepare residents for a catastrophic disaster, the Encinitas Fire Department started a CERT program in 2004. This program teaches citizens basic emergency skills, and trains them to respond effectively to disasters as a part of a team. The program was initially created by the Los Angeles Fire Department in 1986, and has now been established in over 1100 communities nationwide.
People who participate in CERT training will have a better understanding of potential disaster threats to their home, workplace and community. If a disaster occurs that overwhelms the response capabilities of local emergency services, trained CERT members can apply their training to give critical support to family, neighbors and co-workers until professional help arrives.
The program includes special training for basic fire suppression and medical care. Volunteers also learn how to size-up search and rescue situations, such as a collapsed building, for example, to determine whether it is safe to go in. The classes are free and taught by Encinitas firefighters or by CERT volunteers certified to teach some of the course modules.
At the end of the course, the students respond to a mock emergency to give them a chance to put their skills to good use. Once the training is successfully completed, volunteers receive a certificate at a special City Council ceremony, a designation as Disaster Service Worker and a CERT hardhat, vest, gloves and other safety and emergency response equipment worth about $50 per volunteer.
The course modules are:
- Disaster Preparedness
- Fire Safety
- Disaster Medical Operations (Assessing and Treating Injuries)
- Light Search and Rescue
- Team Organization
- Disaster Psychology
- Terrorism and CERT
- Wildfire Preparedness and Response
- Final Exercise