The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Program educates people about disaster preparedness for hazards that may impact their area and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations. Using the training learned in the classroom and during exercises, CERT members can assist others in their neighborhood or workplace following an event when professional responders are not immediately available to help. CERT members also are encouraged to support emergency response agencies by taking a more active role in emergency preparedness projects in their community. (The above is copied from the official website of: http://www.citizencorps.gov/cert/ )
CERT is a concept developed in 1985 by the Los Angeles Fire Department. They recognized that citizens would very likely be on their own during the early stages of a catastrophic disaster. Accordingly, the LAFD decided that some basic training in disaster survival and rescue skills would be necessary to improve the ability of citizens to survive until emergency personnel could arrive. Thus, CERT teams were created to provide vital services in the absence of emergency responders. Today, all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, USVI, Guam and several foreign countries institute the CERT system. In NJ there are 410 registered CERT Programs with over 18,000 volunteers state-wide and in Bergen County alone there are over 8,000 CERT trained volunteers and approximately 60 teams as of 08/2014.
The events of September 11 will never be forgotten; also not forgotten is how the spirit of America was awakened that day and citizens came forth to volunteer their services. President George W. Bush harnessed this spirit of volunteerism with the Citizen Corps Program. CERT is a part of the Citizen Corps Program.