Monday, May 25, 2009

Emergency Management in Montgomery County, Texas - CERT in The Woodands

The CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) training program has kicked off in The Woodlands. I am currently enrolled in this program and will attend my third class this week. This program all started with the Los Angeles Fire Department in 1985. At that time, earthquakes were the primary concern where citizens would be expected to survive on their own in the early stages of a disaster. This program had a substantial impact in 1987; FEMA decided the program should be expanded nationwide. In 2003, the Citizens Corps program was established in an effort to bring the needed response skills to every community. Hurricane IKE demonstrated the need to have our community prepared for disasters in such a way that would have its citizens ready to assist emergency professionals in a disaster.

Leveraging our emergency response training center, the Woodlands Fire Department is leading an effort to train a first responder team in the area. A first responder is typically a person able to contribute their assistance to families and businesses in the immediate area of the emergency. An emergency can be caused by many circumstances, from a hurricane, tornado or earthquake to a fire, chemical spill or other potential disaster. Typically a first responder must act in a team role, but sometimes individual action and decision making may be required. Therefore, individuals are not only trained to have knowledge of many situations and act on them, but also have ready resources to assist or advise on appropriate actions.

Training consists of about 20 hours of classroom instruction and hands-on practice to develop the pertinent skills for participating on a team. The training is targeted at community residents who are willing and able to be the first on the scene, to help emergency responders save lives and protect property. They might also assist with non-emergency projects that help improve the safety of their community.

The curriculum includes: Disaster Preparedness, Fire Safety, Disaster Medical Operations, Search and Rescue, CERT Organization and Disaster Psychology, Terrorism preparation and CERT roles, Disaster Simulation. Among those attending this first class are Walmart asset managers, Woodlands residents, and residents from various small communities in North Harris and South Montgomery counties. Some are experienced in emergency management and others are not.

This program is sponsored by the Montgomery County Office of Emergency Management at For more information on this class, contact the local coordinator Jessica M Jackson, 936-582-3103, email the coordinator for more information or class enrollment

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