Apex CERT: The Peak of Preparedness

By | April 19, 2019
Pictured (left to right): Theresa DiMaria, Urmila Staudacher, Samantha Royster, and Dave Bruhn, VP, Apex CERT and our presenter this evening

Did you know that Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) programs did not even exist before 1985?  The very first CERT program was developed in 1985 by the Los Angeles Fire Department after their staff had been overwhelmed by a series of emergencies.  Later, in 1993, FEMA adopted it as an all-hazards community based training program.  Today there are more than 2,700 CERT teams in all 50 states.  These are sponsored primarily by Fire Departments (like ours in Apex) but also by Police Departments, Neighborhoods, Corporations and even some Tribal Councils.  More than 600,000 people have been through CERT Basic Training since 2003.

Apex CERT was founded in 2010 and is sponsored by the Apex Fire Department.  Currently, there are 23 deployable and 80 active members.  In addition to providing CERT training they have also merged with CNCSAR (Central North Carolina Search and Rescue) since their training and purpose have so much in common.

Why Do We Need CERT and what is the purpose?  Well, DISASTERS CAN HAPPEN – EVEN IN APEX!  And when they do the Fire Department and first responders can quickly become overwhelmed.  The Town of Apex has over 56,000 residents but only 91 Law Enforcement Personnel and 82 Fire Personnel.  So it’s not hard to imagine an emergency situation where the staff could be overwhelmed.  Remember that not all of those 173 staff are on the clock at any given point in time so a fraction of that number would actually be available to respond immediately.  

In times of emergency, there are protocols to guide and prioritize for proper response.  For example, Police address incidences of grave public safety, Firefighters suppress major fires, EMS personnel handle life-threatening injuries and lower priority needs met in other ways.  This is precisely where Apex CERT trained citizens can assist until the paid professionals arrive.  Not only can CERT trained people help themselves, but they can also help others in times of need.  

If you are interested in getting CERT Basic Training here is what you should know.  There are 21 hours of classroom and hands-on training which is done twice each year and usually takes place in one long weekend.  This culminates in a full-scale exercise.  You will learn:

  • Disaster Preparedness
  • Fire Safety
    • The types of hazards most likely to affect their homes and community
    • How to take steps to prepare themselves for a disaster
    • How to identify and reduce potential fire hazards in their homes, schools, churches, and work places
    • How to work as a team to apply basic fire suppression strategies and resources to safel  extinguish a small fire
  • Disaster Medical Operations
    • How to conduct triage and treat those in immediate need
    • How to apply first aid for opening airways, controlling bleeding, and treating shock
    • How to select and set up a treatment area
    • How to employ basic treatment for various wounds
  • Working With First Responders
  • Light Search and Rescue & Disaster Psychology
  • And much more!

CERT is supplementary to emergency responders and trained to assist them when called upon. The role of Apex CERT’s in the Community is to:

  • Train Citizens interested in disaster response
  • Train CERT team members
  • Deploy in EMERBENCY situations
  • Support First Responders
  • Educate the public in emergency preparedness
  • Service Projects related to emergency response/ preparedness

For example Apex CERT provided support after Hurricane Florence and also paints fire hydrants so the paid Fire Department staff do not need to handle that job which would take them away from more important work.

If you would like to learn more or have any questions email INFO@APEXNCCERT.ORG

For additional information can also visit ApexNCCERT.org or follow Apex CERT on Facebook @apexnccert

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