On May 1, CERT trainers put the volunteers through their final training exercise to practice simulated emergencies, including search-and-rescue operations in adverse conditions, moving and bracing debris to extricate trapped victims and extinguishing fires. Janetske, who serves as Evanston’s emergency preparedness manager, noted that the city has had a CERT program since 2004 with citizen volunteers who have come out day and night to assist police and fire officials in a variety of emergency support roles. However, in an emergency, CERT volunteers would swing into action in support roles to assist, he said. CERT is a national community preparedness program operated under the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Department of Homeland Security’s Citizen Corps Council.
The CERT program is a way to involve students and staffers in serving the community and increasing the preparedness of individuals at Northwestern. The CERT program is a volunteer opportunity and training program for community members to help support preparedness activities, community welfare during major special events and organized community recovery efforts following a crisis.

CERT program members receive an initial 16 hours of training in basic disaster and emergency response skills from experienced and skilled instructors in the first responder and emergency management professions. CERT was originally developed and implemented by the Los Angeles City Fire Department in 1985. Northwestern is finalizing a memorandum of understanding with the city of Evanston for the University’s CERT program and is registering it with the Illinois Emergency Management Agency. Then the class officially graduated to become one of the first active CERT programs on a university campus in Illinois. In addition, there are numerous ways for CERT members to do outreach and contribute to the community besides dealing with emergency situations.
CERT is designed to improve readiness, help people and serve the community through education, training and volunteer service.

Members of a CERT program are initially trained in basic disaster preparedness, fire suppression, medical operations, light search-and-rescue operations, disaster psychology and team organization, terrorism and other CERT program essentials. FEMA recognized the importance of the program and adopted and expanded the CERT program and materials to cover all hazards, from natural disasters to terrorist attacks. Each volunteer earned a certificate from the Federal Emergency Management Institute and one from UP, as well.

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