Northwestern has trained 24 student, staff and faculty volunteers for its new Community Emergency Response Team, according to a press release from Director of Media Relations Bob Rowley. The CERT program will assist in campus and community crises.
CERT volunteers received their final training on May 1. Trainers had volunteers practice simulated emergencies like search-and-rescue operations in adverse conditions, moving and fortifying debris to rescue trapped victims and extinguishing fires. Experienced and skilled instructors lead initial training, which lasts 16 hours.
The class of volunteers graduated to become one of the first active CERT programs on an Illinois college campus.
“Northwestern’s CERT program will be very valuable to the community, and their contribution to the town-gown partnership will be great,” said Thomas Janetke, division chief for Evanston Fire & Life Safety Services, who oversaw the final exercise and brought several of his officers to help train Northwestern’s volunteers.
According to Janetske, Evanston has had a citizen volunteer CERT program since 2004.
“You form these teams and you train them in the hopes that you will never actually need to use them,” said Joseph Frascati, the emergency preparedness manager for University Police who organized the CERT program at Northwestern and was one of the first volunteer trainees. “So understand that our goal is to never be needed, because that means that nothing bad has happened.”
According to the release, “CERT is a national community preparedness program operated under the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Department of Homeland Security’s Citizen Corps Council. The local volunteer program being launched at Northwestern University is a partnership between the UP’s Emergency Services Division and Evanston Fire & Life Safety Services.”
“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.”