Spartanburg County CERT

Spartanburg County CERT



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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is CERT?

A: The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Program educates people about disaster preparedness for hazards that may impact their area and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations. Using the training learned in the classroom and during exercises, CERT members can assist others in their neighborhood or workplace following an event when professional responders are not immediately available to help. CERT members also are encouraged to support emergency response agencies by taking a more active role in emergency preparedness projects in their community. The About CERT section of this site gives you a complete description of CERT.

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Q: How does CERT benefit the community?

A: People who go through CERT training have a better understanding of the potential threats to their home, workplace and community and can take the right steps to lessen the effects of these hazards on themselves, their homes or workplace. If a disaster happens that overwhelms local response capability, CERT members can apply the training learned in the classroom and during exercises to give critical support to their family, loved ones, neighbors or associates in their immediate area until help arrives. When help does arrive, CERTs provide useful information to responders and support their efforts, as directed, at the disaster site. CERT members can also assist with non-emergency projects that improve the safety of the community. CERTs have been used to distribute and/or install smoke alarms, replace smoke alarm batteries in the home of elderly, distribute disaster education material, provide services at special events, such as parades, sporting events, concerts and more.

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Q: How is the CERT funded?

A: Congress has provided funds through the Citizen Corps program to the States and Territories. Grants from these funds may be available to local communities to start CERT programs. Contact your State Citizen Corps point of contact to learn more about grant possibilities.

Also, there are a variety of local approaches to funding. Some communities build costs into their local budget while others charge participants to attend training to cover costs for instructors and course materials. In a few communities, CERT organizations have formed 501 (C) 3 for non-profit status to allow them to do fundraising and seek corporate donations.

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Q: Why take the CERT training?

A: Local government prepares for everyday emergencies. However, there can be an emergency or disaster that can overwhelm the community's immediate response capability. While adjacent jurisdictions, State and Federal resources can activate to help, there may be a delay for them getting to those who need them. The primary reason for CERT training is to give people the decision-making, organizational, and practical skills to offer immediate assistance to family members, neighbors, and associates while waiting for help. While people will respond to others in need without the training, the goal of the CERT program is to help people do so effectively and efficiently without placing themselves in unnecessary danger.

A success story about CERTs comes from events during the wildfires in Florida. The Edgewater CERT helped emergency management and the fire department personnel by assisting with evacuation; handling donations; preparing food for firefighters; and answering the phone while the professionals were fighting the fire. This is a great example of CERT members and response personnel working together for the benefit of the community.

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Q: Who can take the training?

A: Naturals for the training are neighborhood watch, community organizations, communities of faith, school staff, workplace employees, scouting organization and other groups that come together regularly for a common purpose. CERT skills are useful in disaster and everyday life events.

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Q: How do I take CERT training?

A: To become a CERT member, you will have to take the CERT training from the Spartanburg County Office of Emergency Management.  If you want to take CERT training, contact Robbie Swofford at 864-595-5368.

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Q: What if I want to do more than just the basic training?

A: Advanced CERT training will build upon the foundation we lay with Basic CERT training.  Starting in 2007, all of our CERT graduates will be able to receive training in the following areas:

  • Shelter management

  • HAM Radio Operations

  • Support Services

  • Automated External Defibrillator use

  • CPR Skills

While this list is subject to change, we look forward to offering Advanced Training.  We hope those who complete Basic Training will want to continue their training in one, several, or all of the subject areas noted above.  Please check back in periodically.  If the demand is there, some classes may begin this year.

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Q: How do CERT members maintain their skills?

A: As a Spartanburg County CERT member, you are always encouraged to participated in every exercise we conduct.  Most CERT members exercise every two months.  In addition, some may want to take Basic Training again as a refresher.

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Q: Can someone under age 18 participate?

A: With the creation of TEEN CERT, anyone 12 or older can take advantage of CERT Training.  Those between the ages of 12-17 will receive TEEN CERT certification while those 18 or older will become CERT certified.

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Q: What if I have concerns about my age or physical ability?

A: There are many jobs within a CERT for someone who wants to be involved and help. Following a disaster, CERT members are needed for documentation, comforting others, logistics, etc. Non-disaster related team activities may include keeping databases, developing a website, writing a newsletter, planning activities, helping with special events and organizing exercises and activities.

During CERT classroom training, if one has a concern about doing a skill like lifting, just let the instructor know. You can learn from watching. We would like everyone who wants to go through the training to have an opportunity to participate and learn the skills. CERT educates participants about local hazards and trains them in skills that are useful during disaster and life's everyday emergencies.

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Q: What about liability?

A: The text of the Volunteer Protection Act of 1997 is available for viewing. Also there is information about State Liability Laws located on the Citizen Corps website. During training, each sponsoring agency should brief its CERT members about their responsibilities as a CERT member and volunteer. Finally, there is a job aid on liability for you to review in our Start a CERT Program section.

The CERT material was developed by the Los Angeles City Fire Department and adopted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency in 1993. The CERT manual contains basic and straightforward material that has been accepted by those using it as the standard for training.

It is important to remember that the best sources of help in emergencies are professional responders. However, in situations when they are not immediately available, people will want to act and help. We have seen this time and again in our history. CERT training teaches skills that people can use to safely help while waiting for responders. The alternate is to do nothing and that is not in our nature.

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