Arcata Community Emergency Response Team (CERT)
ARCATA – In a major disaster, such as an earthquake or flood, no community is likely to have enough first responders to give immediate assistance to every person who might need it. This is why Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) volunteers are trained to fill in until the professional responders are able to reach the scene and take command.
The CERT program, under FEMA, teaches neighborhood, school, and business volunteers about disaster preparedness for the hazards that may impact their specific region and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, triage, and team organization.
The CERT program offers a consistent, nationwide approach, using the “Incident Command System,” for volunteer training and organization that professional responders can rely on during disaster situations so that they can focus on more urgent or complex tasks.
Humboldt County has several CERT teams. In Arcata, CERT operates under the sponsorship of the Arcata Police Department and works in cooperation with the Humboldt CERT Coalition and the Humboldt County Office of Emergency Services.
Disasters happen. We have been relatively lucky in this area, but anyone paying attention realizes that those of us living in Humboldt County are particularly vulnerable to severe earthquakes. Unfortunately earthquakes give no warning. One minute all is normal and the next we’re diving under the table as everything in the house is swaying, rattling and falling off shelves. Being able to deal successfully with any of these situations often depends on having spent a little time and energy on some advance preparedness.
September is National Preparedness Month. Take this time to start getting yourself and your loved ones prepared or, if you’ve already started, to replenish your supplies and review your emergency plan. Planning for one kind of emergency also means you’ve made good progress toward planning for others.
We are fortunate to have local programs to assist you, and you can also find excellent preparedness information on the web. For example, you can call the local Red Cross office to arrange for a free preparedness presentation or just explore on your own. Here are a few contacts to get you started:
American Red Cross: (707) 832-5480 (to arrange for a free preparedness presentation)
The first step is to make a plan (see above links for how to start). Decide on your meeting places. Arrange who will be your out-of-area contact person. Check out your home or workplace and eliminate any hazards discovered there. Contact the Red Cross if you need smoke alarms. Be thinking ahead about where you might “drop, cover and hold on” during an earthquake to protect yourself until the shaking stops. See more at earthquakecountry.org/sevensteps/
The second step is to assemble your kits so you can take care of yourself and your loved ones during the days before public shelters and other assistance can be organized and put into place.
Third is to become informed: learn first aid, get signed up for local alerts, and learn how to organize your neighbors for mutual support. The FEMA site has information on how to do this. If you live in an area susceptible to wildland fires, consider the advice offered in the 2018 Living with Wildfire in Northwestern California.
A downloadable copy is available from humboldtgov.org/livingwithwildfire.
And fourth is to practice your plan, which we recommend that you do twice a year at the same time you change your clocks and check your smoke alarms.
With our country’s recent experiences with regional disasters, including quite a number here in California, the time to get prepared is NOW.