The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is a part of the Department of Homeland security. FEMA’s mission is to support American citizens and first responders in planning for and responding to all major hazards, natural or otherwise.
With a 2016 budget of $13.9 billion, and an estimated 10,000 current employees, FEMA has responsibility for the entire 320 million American population. Their role is to lead all organizations as they respond to natural disasters. They mobilize first response resources like ambulances, helicopters, and rescue equipment, and coordinate communications between local and state organizations and the Federal government.
With such a large and complex mission and scope of responsibility, in comparison to a relatively small base of FEMA’s employees, FEMA needs additional manpower in times of crisis. To meet this need, FEMA has engaged the community to create the Citizen Emergency Response Team program (CERT).
Through CERT, FEMA trains volunteers in local communities on the types of disaster response skills they are most likely to need in their area. Once a year, CERT volunteers go though simulation training, which includes topics such as emergency medical triage, crowd management, communications when power is out, survival provisioning, and small-scale search and rescue. Community volunteers become CERT certified, and can then act as first-response in the event of a natural disaster in their area of the town or city in which they live. Through the CERT program, FEMA greatly extends its reach and capacity.
CERT teams are active in 28 states and Puerto Rico. The innovative, proactive program, has improved FEMA’s response times, organization, and effectiveness, all through the power of community volunteer engagement. In times of crisis, FEMA help may be no further than your next door neighbor – or your own house! Learn more about becoming CERT certified here!