Edmond’s Citizens Emergency Response Program
Volunteers Prepare for an Emergency or Natural Disaster
It was a devastating sight. Families huddled together on rooftops trying to avoid the rising water; belongings floating away on what used to be normal neighborhood streets in Louisiana. Thousands left homeless in an arena that once was full of applause and cheers. Hurricane Katrina left people across the country asking, “How can I help?” or “What can I do to make sure my family is safe if a disaster like that happened here?”
Mike Magee, Edmond’s Emergency Management coordinator, is helping residents answer those questions through the city’s Community Emergency Response Team. CERT is an organization of about 75 trained volunteers committed to keeping the community prepared for a disaster.
“It’s usually not a question of if, it’s when. Due to severe weather in Oklahoma, things will happen,” Magee said.
According to Magee, the CERT program was started nationally in 1994 under the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and is one of five programs under the Citizen Corps Councils. CERT was modeled after a program started by the Los Angeles Fire Department after several untrained volunteers were injured while responding to the Whittier Narrows earthquake in 1987. Recognizing that volunteers were a beneficial resource when properly trained and organized, the LAFD developed the program.
Magee, who started the Edmond CERT program one and a half years ago when he began working for the city, said it’s important to train, equip and organize volunteers. Training doesn’t consist of