News Release


DATE: September 11, 2003

CONTACT STEVE SCHMIDT AT 619-531-4766 or 619-206-9108



SAN DIEGO - On the second anniversary of the 9-11 terror attacks, a broad-based group of disaster preparedness officials has announced plans to turn ordinary San Diegans into teams of disaster response volunteers to better help communities respond to big disasters.

The San Diego County Citizen Corps Council is launching Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) programs in communities throughout the region. CERT members are specially trained to assist with basic emergency response skills in the event of a large disaster.

"If first responders become overwhelmed during a big disaster, CERT members will serve as important back-up resources to meet the needs of communities," said County Supervisor Dianne Jacob, chair of the Citizen Corps Council.

"Whether it's triage at a disaster scene or tending to a minor emergencies while first responders are occupied, CERT members will be integrated into the overall response capabilities for communities," said La Mesa City Councilman Dave Allen, vice-chair of the Council.

Using specially certified CERT trainers, the Citizen Corps Council is partnering with fire departments and other emergency services organizations to establish lasting CERT programs around the County. The Council has made it a goal to create at least two new teams by the end of 2003.

Fire departments in the cities of El Cajon, Santee and La Mesa are recruiting members of churches, businesses, schools and various community groups to take part in CERT training.

CERT training teaches first aid, basic fire suppression strategies, techniques for debris removal and victim extrication other organizational skills needed for emergency situations. CERT members maintain and refine their skills by taking part in drills, exercises and activities.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) began promoting nationwide use of CERT programs in 1994. Since then, CERTs have been established in hundreds of communities. Currently, the City of Coronado has the region's only active CERT program.

The Citizen Corps Council is funded by a grant from FEMA through the Governor's Office on Service and Volunteerism (GOSERV).

Residents interested in CERT training should call their community fire department or the County's Office of Emergency Services at 858-565-3490.