Newswise — EVANSTON - Northwestern University will enhance its commitment to the safety of its students, faculty, staff and visitors by launching a new training session of its Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program for volunteers this April.

For the fourth year in a row, volunteers are invited to train in the program, which was started at Northwestern in 2014 as a partnership between the University’s department of safety and security, emergency management and the Evanston Fire Department.

The city of Evanston and the Evanston Fire Department have been collaborating on this program with Northwestern and doing the training together for the benefit of the Evanston community and the University community.

The city of Evanston also has a CERT program, as well. If a significant incident were to occur in Evanston or on the Northwestern campus, both the city’s and the University’s teams could be activated, if necessary.

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.

“Throughout the country, states, counties and local jurisdictions, including Evanston, have developed and implemented CERT programs to enhance emergency preparedness and increase community education, awareness and outreach,” said Greg Klaiber, director of emergency management with the department of safety and security.

“CERT programs operate within the community like good Samaritans to provide support to first responders,” Klaiber said. “A CERT program is not intended to replace Northwestern University’s response capabilities, but rather to serve as an important supplement to them.”

CERT is a national community preparedness program operated under the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Citizen Corps Council.

The CERT program is a way to involve students, faculty and staff in serving the community and increasing the preparedness of individuals at Northwestern. CERT is designed to improve readiness and help the community through education, training and volunteer service.

CERT program members receive an initial 20 hours of training in basic disaster and emergency response skills from experienced and skilled instructors in the first responder and emergency management professions. Members of a CERT program are initially trained in:

  • Disaster preparedness
  • Disaster fire suppression
  • Disaster medical operations
  • Light search and rescue operations
  • Disaster psychology and team organization
  • Terrorism and the CERT program
  • Disaster exercises, drills and simulations
  • Principles of the incident command and management
  • CPR and AED (automated external defibrillator ) lifesaving skills
  • Extreme violence and active shooter awareness

The new class is offered to any faculty, staff or student with the University and will be limited to 20 participants. Registration will close no later than March 17, 2017. Classes are scheduled for the following dates and times on the Evanston campus:

  • April 6 - 5 to 9 p.m.
  • April 13 - 5 to 9 p.m.
  • April 20 - 5 to 9 p.m.
  • April 27 - 5 to 9 p.m.
  • May 4 - 5 to 9 p.m.

CERT was originally developed and implemented by the Los Angeles Fire Department in 1985. 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.

For more information on upcoming CERT training dates or registering for upcoming classes, contact Joseph Frascati, emergency preparedness manager with the department of safety and security, emergency management, at 847-467-3065 or [email protected].

Register for the April CERT training course by completing and submitting the CERT course registration form and the CERT Hold Harmless Waiver and Permission Form. 

For more information on the city of Evanston’s CERT program, click here. The city’s CERT course will benefit any citizen who takes it. This individual will be better prepared to respond to and cope with the aftermath of a disaster. 

In the event of a serious man-made or natural disaster, the city’s Office of Emergency Preparedness will activate the Emergency Operations Center and call upon special teams made up of responders from the city’s emergency field support services that include emergency communications volunteers and CERT members.

The next emergency preparedness/CERT course for the city has not been scheduled. For additional information, email [email protected] or call 847-866-5935.

Visit the Federal Emergency Management Agency for additional information on CERT.