The city of Victoria's Community Emergency Response Team's (CERT) mission is simple. "Do the greatest good for the greatest number of people" when a major disaster strikes our community. CERT's primary purpose is to assist first responders and the community during a wide array of emergencies. CERT volunteers are utilized as a supplemental resource to provide basic care, stabilization and information until emergency responders can arrive on scene. Secondary, CERT volunteers will focus on public education, community projects, and training in order to increase the emergency preparedness level for themselves and other members of the community.
We intend for our citizens to be better prepared to survive and recover from all-hazards including severe weather, flooding, major power outage, fire, transportation or hazardous materials incidents, weapons of mass destruction such as chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or explosive-incendiary incidents.
Trained and informed citizens will be better able to help themselves, their families, neighbors and co-workers in the event of a disaster that slows, hinders or overwhelms normal response capability. These citizens may also help prevent a terrorist or criminal attack by watching for, and reporting to authorities, suspicious persons, vehicles or activity at sites such as drinking water system facilities and airports.
The Victoria Office of Emergency Management (OEM) will utilize its CERT members for:
- Assistance with local evacuation and traffic control
- inland search and rescue activities
- Points of Distribution
- the set up of emergency communications
- assistance with the citywide database of citizens with special needs
- assistance with Victoria OEM hazard mitigation projects
- Other Surge Capacity roles during a disaster
- Promote community awareness of potential hazards and preparedness measures;
- Distributing and or installing smoke alarms with batteries for elderly and disabled
- Supplement staffing at special events such as parades and field days
- Raising funds for emergency response equipment in their community
- Provision of first-aid, crowd control or other services at community events
- Hold planning, training or recruitment meetings
- Conducting or participate in disaster response exercises
CERT is organized under the direction and leadership of the Victoria County Office of Emergency Management. CERT members receive 22 hours of initial training in disaster preparedness, disaster fire suppression techniques, disaster medical operations, light search and rescue as well as disaster psychology and team organization. CERT Training culminates with a disaster simulation and comprehensive course review. Completing CERT training in no way obligates an individual to become a member of a call-out team.
Any little bit a volunteer can do to help the community is greatly appreciated. However, the primary goal of the CERT program is to train and organize citizens to respond effectively and efficiently in an emergency situation.
As people are trained and choose to join the community emergency response effort, a CERT is formed. Initial efforts may result in a team with only a few members from across the community. As the number of members grows, a single community-wide team may subdivide following the Incident Command System (ICS) principle of Span of Control until the ideal distribution is achieved. Multiple CERT's are organized into a hierarchy of team consistent with ICS principles.
Activation & Deployment:
CERT's may be activated by the following; The Victoria Office of Emergency Management, The Victoria Chief of Police, the Chief of Victoria Fire Department, the Victoria County Sheriff, the Victoria County Fire Marshal (or their designees). As each CERT is trained and organized, its members select a team leader and alternate leader and identify a meeting location, or staging area, to be used in the event of a disaster. The staging area is where the public first responders will interact with CERT's. Having a centralized contact point makes it possible to communicate damage assessments and allocate volunteer resources more effectively. In an actual disaster, CERT's are deployed progressively and as needs dictate because damage may vary considerably from one location to another. Members are taught to assess their own needs and those in their immediate environment first. CERT members who encounter no need to their immediate area then report to their staging areas, once activated, where they will be assigned roles based on current needs. When CERT's deploy they do so in squads of four or five. Members who find themselves in a heavily affected location send runners to staging areas to get help from available resources. Ham and CB radio links may be utilized to increase communication capabilities and coordination.