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Emergency Management

CERT History

1985: In February of 1985, a group of Los Angeles city officials went to Japan to study its extensive earthquake preparedness plans. The group encountered an extremely homogenous society that had taken extensive steps to train entire neighborhoods in one aspect of alleviating the potential devastation that would follow a major earthquake. These single-function neighborhood teams were trained in fire suppression, light search and rescue operations, first aid, and evacuation.

Goodyear CERT team in action

In September of 1985, a Los Angeles City investigation team was sent to Mexico City following an earthquake there that registered a magnitude 8.1 on the Richter scale and killed more than 10,000 people and injured more than 30,000. Mexico City had no training program for citizens prior to the disaster. However, large groups of volunteers organized themselves and performed light search and rescue operations.

1986: The City of Los Angeles Fire Department developed a pilot program to train a group of leaders in a neighborhood watch organization.  A concept developed involving multi-functional volunteer response teams with the ability to perform basic fire suppression, light search and rescue, and first aid. 

CERT class performing an exercise

1987: On October 1, 1987, the Whittier Narrows earthquake vividly underscored the threat of an area-wide major disaster, and demonstrated the need to expedite the training of civilians to prepare for earthquakes and other emergencies.

Following the Whittier Narrows earthquake, the City of Los Angeles took an aggressive role in protecting the citizens of Los Angeles by creating the Disaster Preparedness Division (now the Disaster Preparedness Unit) within the Los Angeles City Fire Department.   One objective was to develop, train, and maintain a network of Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT.)

1993: The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) decided to make the concept and program available to communities nationwide.

2002: In January 2002, CERT became part of the Citizen Corps, a unifying structure to link a variety of related volunteer activities to expand a community’s resources for crime prevention and emergency response.

2008: As of January 2008, 50 states, four territories and six foreign countries are using the CERT training.


Last Updated: 10/2/2008

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City of Goodyear • 190 N. Litchfield Road • Goodyear AZ 85338 • Phone 623-932-3910 • Toll-Free 1-800-872-1749
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