The Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) from the Bay Area actively participated in the training exercise Urban Shield for the first time. CERT was always present for support but this year was different – they trained front and center under the Green Command moniker.
The exercising personnel were separated into two groups: the victims/patients and the rescuers. Whatever team individual CERT members were assigned to, they all were put to the test and gained important knowledge, skills and understanding of what it takes to perform under pressure when lives are at stake. CERT can always use more volunteers, and as you’ll see in the video you do have what it takes to become a CERT member; it’s up to you to decide whether you can or want to join.
According to their website, the CERT concept was developed and implemented by the Los Angeles City Fire Department in 1985. The Whittier Narrows earthquake in 1987 underscored the area-wide threat of a major disaster in California. Further, it confirmed the need for training civilians to meet their immediate needs. Since 1993 when this training was made available nationally by FEMA, communities in 28 states and Puerto Rico have conducted CERT training. FEMA supports CERT by conducting or sponsoring Train-the-Trainer and Program Manager courses for members of the fire, medical and emergency management community. There are over 2,700 local CERT programs nationwide, with more than 600,000 individuals trained since CERT became a national program.
Urban Shield says it’s grown into a comprehensive, full-scale regional preparedness exercise assessing the overall Bay Area UASI Region’s response capabilities related to multi-discipline planning, policies, procedures, organization, equipment and training. Urban Shield continues to test regional integrated systems for prevention, protection, response and recovery in our high-threat, high-density urban area. The exercise evaluates our existing level of preparedness and capabilities, identifying not only what we do well, but areas in need of improvement. The previous years’ After Action Reports are referenced and used to assist in prioritizing upcoming expenditures possible for the region so we may become more prepared for any type of critical event or incident in our area. The overarching goals of Urban Shield include striving for the capability to present a multi-layered training exercise to enhance the skills and abilities of regional first responders, as well as those responsible for coordinating and managing large scale events. Urban Shield is implemented to identify and stretch regional resources to their limits, while expanding regional collaboration and building positive relationships. In addition, this exercise provides increased local business and critical infrastructure collaboration. Urban Shield challenges the skills, knowledge and abilities of all who participate. It not only improves regional disaster response capabilities, but provides a platform for national and international first responders, as well as the private sector, to work efficiently and effectively together when critical incidents occur.