Program Overview: CERT in the Windham Region
What is CERT?
There is a very good chance that your neighborhood will be on its own during the early stages of a catastrophic disaster. After a catastrophic disaster, citizens will volunteer to help. Without proper training, spontaneous, unsolicited volunteers--"SUVs"-- can expose themselves to potential injury and even death.
The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program provides special training that enhances the ability of communities to prepare for, respond to, and recover from a major emergency or disaster situation by preparing citizens to help themselves, their families, and their neighbors in the event of an emergency. Experience has shown that basic training in disaster survival and rescue skills improves the ability of citizens to survive until responders or other assistance arrives.
Citizens in the Windham Region who complete Basic CERT Training return to their communities better prepared individuals. Graduates often remain active in the program by joining a local Community Emergency Response Team.
Local CERT History
The region's first CERT class was held in January of 2005, with the primary goal of public education. That class graduated thirteen students. As of November, 2010, the region has hosted eleven basic CERT classes and trained over 100 local citizens.
In April of 2006, the region's first official team formed in Chaplin, CT. Later that year, Hampton joined with Chaplin to create the Chaplin-Hampton CERT. In February 2007, the Lebanon CERT formed with ten volunteers. In January 2008, the Coventry CERT formed with five volunteers. In May 2009, Windham CERT formed with nine volunteers. In September 2009, Scotland CERT formed with eight volunteers. In April 2012, Willington CERT formed with eighteen members.
CERT volunteers may be further trained to a town's mission. One example of advanced training recommended for volunteers in our region is American Red Cross shelter operations training.
Local Citizen Corps Council
The national Citizen Corps Council encourages citizens to "embrace the personal responsibility to be prepared; to get training in first aid and emergency skills; and to volunteer to support local emergency responders, disaster relief, and community safety" through several of its programs, including CERT.
In 2004, Windham Region Council of Governments (WINCOG) formed a local Citizen Corps Council as part of a national and statewide effort designed to help individuals and neighborhoods prepare for and respond to catastrophic disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, and other major emergencies. The Local Council covers nine Connecticut towns: Chaplin, Columbia, Coventry, Hampton, Lebanon, Mansfield, Scotland, Willington and Windham. Local Citizen Corps Council issues and responsibilities currently fall under the WINCOG Emergency Management Workgroup, which meets monthly at the WINCOG offices at 700 Main Street in Willimantic. This group has designated a WINCOG staff member as the regional representative on the State of Connecticut's Citizen Corps Advisory Council. WINCOG Emergency Management Workgroup meetings are posted on the calendar, and are open to the public.
The local CERT program is administered by WINCOG staff. Inquiries about the Windham Region CERT program and other local Citizen Corps programs may be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org or 860-456-2221.