The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has developed and supported the creation of Community Emergency Response Teams, or CERTs, to improve the resilience of communities in the face of disasters. Here in the Pacific Northwest, we can face storms and flooding that can cut power and disrupt Emergency Services for days, if not weeks. And we face the threat of a major Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake – a once every 250 years earthquake that can be greater than 9.0 magnitude! A major earthquake would leave us without services for weeks. No fire department, no ambulance… Just us. The CERT program aims to fill this gap by training community volunteers in basic search and rescue techniques, along with fundamental first aid and communication skills.
In Portland, we are called Neighborhood Emergency Teams (NETs). It is for a trivial reason: the Portland Police swat team is called SERT. So we can’t use the generally used term of CERT because of the confusion and mayhem that might ensue… Portland likes to claim that NETs are a cut above other CERTs in training and capability.