Tuscaloosa County EMA and the Alabama Fire College came together to host the fifth Community Emergency Response Team Plus (CERT+) program the spring of 2019. A number of local first responder groups were offered their expertise as instructors for the program, including Tuscaloosa Fire Rescue Service and the Tuscaloosa County Sheriff’s Office.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency, using the model created by the Los Angeles City Fire Department, began promoting nationwide use of the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) concept in 1994. Since then, CERTs have been established in hundreds of communities. CERT training promotes a partnering effort between emergency services and the people that they serve.
The goal is for emergency personnel to train members of neighborhoods, community organizations, or workplaces in basic response skills. CERT members are then integrated into the emergency response capability for their area. If a disastrous event overwhelms or delays the community’s professional response, CERT members can assist others by applying the basic response and organizational skills that they learned during training. Training exercises include disaster preparedness, fire safety/suppression, disaster medical operations, light search-and-rescue operations, CERT organization, psychology and terrorism. These skills can help save and sustain lives following a disaster until help arrives. CERT skills also apply to daily emergencies.
About CERT… CERT members maintain and refine their skills by participating in exercises and activities. They can attend supplemental training opportunities offered by the sponsoring agency and others that further their skills base. Finally, CERT members can volunteer for projects that improve community emergency preparedness.
Mission Statement: Doing the Greatest Good for the Greatest Number of People
The CERT program is designed to teach communities the skills to react as a cohesive and valuable asset during emergency situations. In situations such as natural disasters, first responders’ primary focus is on those in immediate danger. CERT allows members of the community to provide assistance and take care of family, neighbors, and areas that may be less impacted but still need help. More information about the CERT training can be found here. This training does NOT require you to be a part of a response team. The goal of the course is to help students gain the knowledge and training to help themselves and others whenever the need may arise.
Community members who go through CERT will learn the basics of first aid, search and rescue, fire safety, emergency preparedness, and other valuable skills. CERT+ adds an extra level of training that is not on the standard CERT curriculum. In addition to basic CERT knowledge, trainees will also go through a storm spotter class and learn about opportunities to volunteer in their communities outside of a disaster response. The program will culminate in a practical exercise to help test and reinforce newly learned skills. Students would also have the opportunity to participate in an annual exercise to test out their skills.
The classes will be held as a series of eight 2.5 hour sessions on Thursday nights at the Alabama Fire College, located behind Shelton State. The class is open to anyone 16 and older. While the training is free, there is an optional fee of $37 for a basic disaster response kit which includes a backpack, hardhat, gloves, and safety goggles. Spring classes will start January 24, 2019. A minimum of 18 students is required to conduct training, and all students are subject to Tuscaloosa County EMA approval.
***CERT+ classes have been put on hold due to COVID-19***
If you would like to visit a class, or if you need help registering, please contact the Tuscaloosa County EMA by phone at 205-349-0150 or by the contact form located here.
CERT+ classes are sponsored in part by: Alabama Fire College, Tuscaloosa County Sheriff’s Office and Sheriff Ron Abernathy, Tuscaloosa Fire and Rescue Service, Legacy Equipment Rental, Global Fire Sprinklers, and Alabama Department of Public Health.