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November 11, 2009 > CERT wants to expand to schools

CERT wants to expand to schools

By Shavon Walker

People may know of the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) as an organization that trains others to prepare for disasters but few know CERT is preparing to expand. The team members want to take their message city-wide, starting with schools.

So why is CERT important enough to be taught in schools?

"Disasters overtax your resources," said Carlos Rodriguez, Union City Fire Chief. "The fire department can only handle two to three incidents at a time. People need to become self-sufficient, not only for themselves but for their neighbors."

The CERT team recently presented to the New Haven Unified School District.

"We had a very positive response." said Chief Rodriguez.

The district was so pleased with CERT they applied for and received a grant to allow CERT to train staff members. The training went well and, in the future, CERT would like to train faculty and students.

"We've had high school students attend CERT training for their community service hours," Chief Rodriguez pointed out.

He would like to give more high school students a chance to learn about CERT and what CERT training can achieve. He also stated that they would like to familiarize the system with schools to reach more people and that they would like to train more on CERT emergency management.

Before any of this takes place, more research must be done and proper procedures followed.

"These are conversations to have with the school superintendent," said Chief Rodriguez. "We are working on what we can do to have an impact."

Every city has CERT and anyone can be trained; to learn more, contact your local fire department. For more about Union City's CERT program, contact the Union City Fire Department at (510) 675-5470 or visit

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