Ask the volunteers of Anaheim Fire & Rescue’s Community Emergency Responses Team why they do what they do, and you get virtually the same answer over and over.
They volunteer not only out of concern for themselves and their families, but for their neighbors and the entire community.
The Community Emergency Responses Team, better known as CERT, trains volunteers to be prepared in the event of a natural disaster such as an earthquake or fire.
CERT volunteers also learn how to provide aid to themselves and others before first responders arrive.
“When there is a disaster, I have to know how to take care of myself and anyone in my community because it could be a long time before first responders arrive,” said Lisa Lewis, a lifelong Anaheim resident and a CERT volunteer for six years.
The training is exceptional, Lewis said. It has taught her to be prepared and stay connected to her neighbors.
In addition to rendering aid, CERT volunteers may be called on to assist with check-in of personnel or provide coffee and food in the city’s Emergency Operations Center during a natural disaster, said Adriana Kennedy, an administrative analyst at Anaheim Fire & Rescue who oversees CERT.
Kennedy wants the community to know that two new CERT classes are about to get underway, a weekend class in August and a weeknight class in September. Classes take place at North Net Fire Training Center and are available at no charge.
After volunteers are trained, the CERT team meets once a month where they train and exercise their skills.
“The more you know, the better you respond and handle situations,” said Frank Lansner, a CERT volunteer for six years.
Anaheim’s CERT program consists of 12 neighborhood teams, each overseen by a team captain.
Realtor Tim Heckerman, a CERT volunteer for eight years and a team captain, said the program has helped him get to know all his neighbors and given him the opportunity to help them.
“I’m a local realtor in North Orange County and I see my neighbors all the time and a lot of people aren’t ready for when the big one hits so I’m just out trying to promote (CERT),” Heckerman said. “I can name everybody on my street and everybody knows me.”
Jan Zimmerman, a CERT volunteer for two years, lives in a gated senior community with 500 residents.
Through CERT, Zimmerman is helping fellow residents get prepared in the event of a disaster, making sure they have extra medication on hand, along with food and water.
“We are trying to get our residents better trained and organized so they are ready in case we get the big earthquake,” Zimmerman said.
For information on CERT or to sign up for the August or September class, go to anaheim.net/fire keyword: CERT or contact Adriana Kennedy at firstname.lastname@example.org or 714-765-4024
Weekend Format (Saturday/Sunday) – August 2016: 8 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Aug. 6 – Disaster Preparedness & CERT Organization
Aug. 7 – Disaster Medical Operations 1 & Disaster Medical Operations 2
Aug. 13 – Fire Safety and Utility & Disaster Psychology
Aug. 14 – Light Search and Rescue & CERT and Terrorism
Aug. 20 – Final exercise
Weeknight Format (Tuesday/Thurday) – September 2016: 6 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Sept. 6 – Disaster Preparedness
Sept. 8 – Fire Safety and Utility
Sept. 13 – Disaster Medical Operations 1
Sept. 15 – Disaster Medical Operations 2
Sept. 20 – Disaster Psychology and CERT Organization
Sept. 22 – Light Search and Rescue
Sept. 27 – CERT & Terrorism
Sept. 29 – Final exercise