The CERT website, http://www.olatheks.org/Fire/Cert/Members, explains what CERT is and what it does. The following are an excerpts from their website.
CERT Mission Statement is: The Olathe Community Emergency Response Team is a volunteer driven program of the Olathe Fire Department, passionately committed to serving the community by maintaining a trained, prepared citizenry.
The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Program educates people about disaster preparedness for hazards that may impact their area and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations. Using the training learned in the classroom and during exercises, CERT members can assist others in their neighborhood or workplace following an event when professional responders are not immediately available to help. CERT members also are encouraged to support emergency response agencies by taking a more active role in emergency preparedness projects in their community. CERT is now part of the national Citizen Corp effort endorsed by the President and the Department of Homeland Security.
A CERT group is an organized team of people trained for disaster planning, preparedness and survival. Following a major disaster, like a tornado strike, professional first responders who provide fire and medical services may not be able to meet the initial demand for these services. The potential for large numbers of victims, disabled telecommunication equipment, and road blockages may delay emergency services workers from reaching disaster victims. In a disaster, people will have to rely on each other for help to meet their immediate live-saving and life-sustaining needs. A CERT network can train people to meet Olathe's needs in the event of a disaster. In March 2001, the Olathe Fire Department initiated CERT in Olathe. Olathe's CERT network consists of people trained to help meet Olathe's needs in the event of a disaster.
There are no requirements or cost for joining CERT; it is strictly volunteer group.
The typical “natural” emergency events that CERT groups are involved with consists of; floods, tornadoes, and earthquakes. The typical “public service” events are; bike events and walks. CERT members provide communications in all events, and lend their training when first responders have not yet arrived on site.