Northwestern University police hope to enhance campus safety and security by creating a Community Emergency Response Team program to train volunteers in emergency preparedness.

CERT is a national community preparedness program operated under the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Homeland Security’s Citizen Corps Council.

The program at Northwestern is a partnership between the Emergency Services Division of University Police and Evanston Fire & Life Safety Services.

The CERT program, officials say, is a way to involve students and staffers in serving the community and increasing the preparedness of individuals at Northwestern. CERT is designed to improve readiness, help people and serve the community through education, training and volunteer service.

The CERT program is a volunteer opportunity and training program for community members to help support preparedness activities, community welfare during major special events and organized community recovery efforts following a crisis.

“Throughout the country, states, counties and local jurisdictions including Evanston have developed and implemented CERT programs to enhance emergency preparedness and increase community education, awareness and outreach,” said Joseph Frascati, emergency preparedness manager for University Police.

“CERT programs operate within the community like good Samaritans to provide support to first responders,” Frascati said. “A CERT program is not intended to replace Northwestern University’s response capabilities, but rather to serve as an important supplement to them.”

CERT program members receive an initial 16 hours of training in basic disaster and emergency response skills from experienced and skilled instructors in the first responder and emergency management professions.

The initial class — scheduled for four evening in April — is offered to any faculty, staff or student with the university and will be limited to 20 participants. Registration will close no later than March 15.

CERT was originally developed and implemented by the Los Angeles City Fire Department in 1985. FEMA recognized the importance of the program and adopted and expanded the CERT program and materials to cover all hazards, from natural disasters to terrorist attacks.

For more information on the upcoming CERT training dates or registering for upcoming classes, contact Joseph Frascati, emergency preparedness manager with the Northwestern University Police Department at (847) 491-3065.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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