By Dr. Shana Nicholson
American Military University
For almost 20 years, I have been an active member of the emergency medical services (EMS), fire science, and public safety profession. I have seen many advancements during my time in the field and I am gratified to see yet another important area being developed—community involvement during a crisis. Such involvement by average citizens includes active participation in planning and practicing to respond to a crisis in the community.
The value of community participation in disaster mitigation and response has been highlighted by examples of bystander support during recent crises such as the Boston Marathon bombing, hurricane response, and tornados. One program created to better organize community participation is Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT).
Under the CERT program, community members train for a disaster and use that training in times of crisis. The CERT program is proactive. It encourages community members to train with public safety professionals and therefore enhances the response knowledge and manpower of a community during a disaster response. This program allows rescue efforts to include average people in a safe way.
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