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How the CERT Program Started

The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) concept was developed and implemented by the City of Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) in 1985. 

They recognized that citizens would very likely be on their own during the early stages of a catastrophic disaster. 

Accordingly, LAFD decided that some basic training in disaster survival and rescue skills would improve the ability of citizens to survive until responders or other assistance could arrive. 

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 immediate post-disaster needs.

The training program that the LAFD initiated proved to be so beneficial that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) felt that the concept and the program should be made available to communities nationwide. 

In 1994, the Emergency Management Institute (EMI), in cooperation with the LAFD, expanded the CERT materials to make them applicable to all hazards.

In 2003, President Bush asked all Americans to volunteer in the service of their country.  The Citizen Corps program was created to spearheaded this effort to harness the power of every individual through education, training, and volunteer service to make communities safer, stronger, and better prepared to respond to the threats of terrorism, crime, public health issues, and disasters of all kinds. 

CERT was selected as one of the primary programs offered to the American public to meet this challenge.

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