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Following a disaster, our first responders will be inundated with calls for assistance and unable to meet all of the demands for their services. As was seen during the Summer 2012 storms and related power outages, factors such as number of victims, communication failures, and road blockages will prevent people from accessing emergency services they have come to expect at a moment's notice.
Since we can reasonably predict that emergency services will be overwhelmed and not meet immediate needs following a major disaster, what can government do to assist in preparing citizens for such a situation?
- First, present citizens the facts about what to expect following a major disaster in terms of immediate services.
- Second, give the message about their responsibility for mitigation and preparedness efforts.
- Third, train them in basic preparedness and life-saving skills.
- Fourth, organize teams so that they are an extension of first responder services, offering basic assistance to victims until professional services arrive.
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.
For more information concerning this program, please view the following video.