Emergency and Risk Management

Community Involvement

In recent years, emergency management officials have made an effort to include the general public, volunteer groups and the business sector in preparedness planning and training and education programs.  The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training is just one example of community involvement in preparedness training.

Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) concept was developed and implemented by the Los Angeles City Fire Department (LAFD) in 1985. The CERT course will benefit any citizen who takes it. This individual will be better prepared to respond to and cope with the aftermath of a disaster. Additionally, if a community wants to supplement its response capability after a disaster, civilians can be recruited and trained as neighborhood, business, and government teams that, in essence, will be auxiliary responders. These groups can provide immediate assistance to victims in their area, organize spontaneous volunteers who have not had the training, and collect disaster intelligence that will assist professional responders with prioritization and allocation of resources following a disaster. Since 1993 when this training was made available nationally by FEMA, communities in all 50 States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Virgin Islands have conducted CERT training.

The American Red Cross has long been a proponent of preparedness training.  The Red Cross has partnered with FEMA for years to develop preparedness programs and to distribute literature and information to the general public on how to prepare for all forms of natural hazards.  In the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks, the American Red Cross was one of the first organizations to develop and distribute a guide for homeland security preparedness for individuals, businesses and families pegged to the five color levels included in the Homeland Security Advisory System (HSAS).


In the past, the business continuity planning community has taken the lead in providing preparedness services to the country’s business sector.  Efforts are currently underway to develop partnering opportunities between the business sector and the government emergency management agencies and volunteer organizations like the Red Cross to provide disaster and homeland security preparedness to small and large businesses in every community.


The three case studies included in this chapter highlight the preparedness planning process, the design and delivery of preparedness and education programs, and the role of the community in the delivery of preparedness messages and the implementation of preparedness activities.  The cases also discuss preparedness on a state level, a regional level, and a national level.

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