Photo contributed by CERT
Residents of Southern California need to be prepared for a large variety of natural disasters including fires, earthquakes and mudslides. With the Community Emergency Response Team program, Ventura County residents can get ready with the help of the Ventura County Fire Department .
CERT is a program designed to educate individuals and businesses about the importance of getting prepared for a natural disaster.
Grahame Watts the Thousand Oaks coordinator for CERT and special projects manager for the City of Thousand Oaks said the program is there to help people be more self-reliant during emergencies.
“This is relevant to this years fires: Easy, Maria and Wendy. They all had a big impact on [the] city. If people don’t take time to understand and know, they could lose everything. Have a family plan on where to go, what to do, especially when cell phones do not work. We have to know how to be smart without the smartphone,” Watts said.
CERT certified resident of Thousand Oaks John Brooks recently completed the program. Brooks joined the program with his wife after thinking about their neighborhood and the Woolsey Fire that ignited in early November of 2018.
“The program gives good information and hands on training for emergency first aid. It encourages folks to take charge. It is a great service provided by the fire department and city here, even students can benefit as well,” Brooks said.
CERT is an informational program that has branched across the nation. The program strives to help residents prepare and teaches basic level training for those who are seeking to become more self-reliant during natural disasters.
Ventura County Fire Captain, Robert Ashby, said the program was developed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and was made available nationally in 1993. Fifteen years ago the Ventura County Fire Department acquired it, and five years ago CERT was boosted by Homeland Security and FEMA grants to give the program the ability to host classes, have supplies and pay instructors.
The Thousand Oaks CERT program has been in place for 10 years, Watts said. Each class is taught by instructors who are professional firefighters and have a different topic for each week ranging from fires, floods, earthquakes and individual neighborhood readiness.