Listos California Celebrates Disaster Volunteers during September’s National Preparedness Month with Inaugural CERT Week

Listos California, National CERT Association and Cal OES launch new online CERT training to overcome challenge of in-person activities during COVID-19

Sacramento, Calif. (Sep. 21, 2020) – The National CERT Association and Listos California announce today the inaugural CERT Week, from September 21-27, to recognize California’s 400+ CERT programs, and over 2,800 CERT programs nationwide, given their role to boost community preparedness and support during times of disaster response and recovery. CERT (Community Emergency Response Teams) programs across California, and the country, will host preparedness events, promote their local impact and recruit new disaster volunteers.

To kick-off CERT Week, the National CERT Association and Listos California, in partnership with the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES), announce a new online CERT training. Funds from Listos California and Cal OES established the new online platform to further the state’s investment in CERT and to increase levels of disaster readiness among communities statewide.

“While the COVID-19 pandemic has created significant challenges for our communities that depend on on in-person events and trainings, our work to ready Californians for wildfire and other disaster must continue,” said Christina Curry, Chief Deputy Director of Cal OES. “In the face of this pandemic, CERT has evolved to leverage a 21st century technology solution to continue its mission and critical role in our communities. Cal OES, and the Listos California campaign anchored here, are thankful to bring this program online.”

New online training ensures a strong CERT volunteer pool in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic

CERT is a 20-hour FEMA disaster preparedness-training program, originally created by the Los Angeles City Fire Department in 1986, conducted in a classroom-based environment. However, because of COVID-19, almost all CERT training in California has stopped. Local programs wanted an alternative, safe way to train community members to become disaster resilient.

Now with the online training, which is available through the California Specialized Training Institute (CSTI), CERT programs can continue to deliver CERT training. The public can access this online tool by first contacting their local CERT chapter and a portion of the training will remain in-person to ensure a rich hybrid learning experience.

An accessible tool to reach more Californians and to support CERT chapters across the country

The online tool includes ADA accessibility features, versions in English, Spanish and Mandarin, and the addition of triage and empathy building modules. Developed with the support of the University of Utah, and building onto their existing training, all CERT programs in the state and across the country can access the online training free of cost. As of today, 21 states have signed-up to use California’s new online CERT training.

“CERT members aim to do the greatest good for the greatest number of people, so this new online tool is essential to keep CERT strong in California, and beyond,” said Jake Heflin, public information officer for the National CERT Association and the Long Beach Fire Department CERT program.  “CERT is a critical resource for disaster preparedness in the Golden State and across the country. Our CERT volunteers also offer a consistent, nationwide approach to support local partners during disasters, allowing emergency managers, county officials and first responders to focus on more complex tasks.

The National CERT Association will host the first of three webinars on Tuesday, September 22, at 10:00 AM PST to introduce CERT programs to the new online training. Currently over 500 CERT programs have registered for webinars. Californians can find opportunities to become a CERT member and join the growing CERT community.

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NATIONAL CERT ASSOCIATION
The National CERT Association is a new non-profit organization created and led by CERT leaders across the United States. Established in partnership with FEMA on September 12, 2019, the association serves CERT chapters and members by supporting communication and resource sharing across the CERT community. The association aims to empower individuals with knowledge, connection and training that promotes resiliency in their community through preparedness, response, and recovery. Learn more by visiting nationalcert.org.

LISTOS CALIFORNIA
Listos California, a groundbreaking emergency preparedness campaign that is building resilient communities, is an effort based on an investment of public funds by Governor Gavin Newsom and state lawmakers. The campaign aims to ready our most vulnerable populations for disasters like wildfires, earthquakes and floods, and now public health emergencies like the COVID-19 pandemic. The campaign is led by co-chairs Karen Baker and Justin Knighten and is anchored at Cal OES. Join our movement to advance a culture of disaster preparedness in California, by visiting ListosCalifornia.org.

GOVERNOR’S OFFICE OF EMERGENCY SERVICES (CAL OES)
Cal OES is responsible for the coordination of overall state agency response to major disasters in support of local government. The agency is responsible for assuring the state’s readiness to respond to and recover from all hazards – natural, man-made, war-caused emergencies and disasters – and for assisting local governments in their emergency preparedness, response, recovery, and hazard mitigation efforts. Visit us online at caloes.ca.gov or @Cal_OES on Twitter and get the latest news at OESNews.com.

Monica Vargas

Monica is an Information Officer for the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES). She has been involved in the Aliso Canyon Gas Leak, Valley Fire, Butte Fire, historic drought, Oroville Dam Emergency Spillway Incident, 2017 winter storms, North Bay Fires, Camp Fire, Ridgecrest Earthquake and EMAC PIO support to 2020 Puerto Rico earthquake. She previously served Cal OES as an analyst in international affairs, technology operations and executive staff support.

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