AMU Emergency Management Opinion Public Safety

CERT Teams: An Important Part of Community Resiliency

Community resiliency and CERT teams

Community resiliency is an area of scholarship that specifically focuses on how communities come together and recover quickly from a disaster based on the networks that are already in place within a community. The [link url=”” title=”RAND Corporation”] defines community resiliency as “a measure of the sustained ability of a community to utilize available resources to respond to, withstand, and recover from adverse situations.” 

Recently, I discussed [link url=”” title=”how important churches are to community resiliency”]. Churches are a large component of community resiliency; they are already operate a network of individuals in a community that will help others in the midst of a crisis. Parishioners are known for helping fellow parishioners in the midst of a family emergency bringing them meals and praying for them when there is a serious family crisis. In the same regard, churches provide a network of community resiliency. Because of their networked efforts, a community can recover faster from a disaster. 

But it is also important for emergency managers to consider other avenues of community resiliency. An avenue that has been relatively controversial in the emergency management world is that of Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT). Despite the controversy surrounding CERT teams, CERT Teams may be the essence of creating another avenue of community resiliency for emergency managers in towns and cities throughout the United States.

CERT team development

[link url=”” title=”CERT Team”] refers to the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program that “educates people about disaster preparedness and trains them in basic disaster response skills such as fire safety, light search and rescue and disaster medical operations.” 

The concept allows citizens in the community to receive basic emergency management training and allows them to help with emergencies when they arise. With CERT, regular citizens are able to learn more about emergency management.

Even if these individuals do not help during a disaster, the preparedness training they receive can be incredibly beneficial to emergency managers. These are individuals who will likely never need rescuing and will have the appropriate resources they need in the middle of a catastrophe.

CERT teams are community resiliency networks

CERT teams are another network of individuals in a community. They are trained in basic emergency management and, thus, are a component of community resiliency the same way churches are – except this group is trained in basic emergency management knowledge.

If the network is nurtured and individuals within the team feel like a team and connect with their team mates on a regular basis, they can provide aspects of community resiliency back into their area. It can become a network that can work after a disaster has been resolved, and can provide a level of preparedness that emergency managers cannot add into their plans.

CERT team considerations

CERT teams are an interesting concept that will significantly help with emergency management in the future. Especially from the angle of community resiliency, CERT Teams will provide an extra layer for emergency managers beyond any plan they create for their community.

It becomes increasingly important for municipalities to nurture these teams, as they will have a direct impact on the recovery phase of a major emergency. Regular team building activities should take place to maintain these relationships both within the team and between the team and an emergency management office.

Allison G. S. Knox teaches in the fire science and emergency management departments at American Military University and American Public University. Focusing on emergency management and emergency medical services policy, she often writes and advocates about these issues. Allison serves as the At-Large Director of the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians and as Chancellor of the Southeast Region on the Board of Trustees with Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society in Social Sciences. She is also chair of Pi Gamma Mu’s Leadership Development Program. Prior to teaching, Allison worked for a member of Congress in Washington, D.C. and in a Level One trauma center emergency department. She is an emergency medical technician and holds multiple graduate degrees.

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