Community Emergency Response Team

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One of the mandates of HMCI is to increase the resilience of communities. The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) programme is one such tool the agency uses to achieve this mandate. These teams are established under the HMCI preparedness programme and have their authority, existence and procedures established through the Cayman Islands Hazard Management legislation (draft) and C.I. National Disaster Management Plan and sub plans.

Hazard Management Cayman Islands and the Cayman Islands Red Cross have now successfully trained and established a number of CERT teams including in North Side, North Sound Gardens Community, West Bay, Little Cayman, Cayman Brac and Savannah Meadows.

The Cayman Islands Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) programme is strengthening community resilience through active community disaster risk management. The programme deals with community disaster preparedness, community response and community risk assessment. The transfer of essential skills to enable a community to prepare, respond and mitigate against hazards that they are vulnerable to is the foundation of the programme, hence it has an intense training component. This training entails basic disaster preparedness and response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, and first aid / CPR. Community vulnerability analysis is also included. With the knowledge gained during the course, the community becomes more resilient to hazard occurrences. The CERTs are able to assist the community to prepare and protect itself from hazards and lessen the effects of disaster events.

These skills are vital to a community especially when the country is impacted by a devastating disaster event, such as Hurricane Ivan, and the emergency services are stretched and communities inaccessible. CERT training is designed to prepare the community to help itself, and also to build in self-sufficiency so the community can cope on its own resources for some period of time.

Cert Basic Training Programme Outline

The CERT Basic Training Course is designed to provide volunteers with the basic skills and information needed to be prepared for, and respond to, emergencies and disasters in the community. Upon successful completion of the course, participants receive a certificate verifying they completed the course. The volunteer group completing this training will be eligible to become registered with Hazard Management Cayman Islands as a bonafide CERT.

The course entails-

Community Emergency Response Teams: Gives an overview of the membership, roles and responsibilities of a CERT in preparedness and response for the community. The relevance of their function to the community is also illustrated.

Disaster Risk Management: Reviews basic disaster risk management concepts and approaches. This gives the participants a basic knowledge of the components of disaster risk management and its applicability to the community.

Community Disaster Preparedness and Planning: Participants learn how to develop a community disaster preparedness and response plan with the resources in the community.

Community Vulnerability and Capacity Assessment (VCA): Allows the participants to interact with the community at large to determine and identify the hazards and vulnerabilities present in the community. The team also considers the resources available in the community that adds to the capacity and strength of the community. These capacities can include many things including skill sets of residents, or assets such as vehicles or community buildings. They are any resources that may assist the community in its preparedness and response efforts. The outcome of conducting the VCA is that the community has an understanding of their disaster history and the strengths and vulnerabilities in the community.

Fire Safety and Suppression: Briefly covers fire chemistry, hazardous materials, fire hazards, and fire suppression strategies. However, the thrust of this session is the safe use of fire extinguishers, sizing up the situation, controlling utilities, and extinguishing a small fire.

Initial Damage Assessment: Participants learn how to assess levels of damage in their community and report the information to the wider National Emergency Operation Center (NEOC)

Light Search & Rescue: Participants learn about search and rescue planning, size-up, search techniques, rescue techniques, and most important, rescuer safety.

Stress Management and Psycho-Social Support: Focuses on the psychological impact of a disaster on rescuers and victims, and how to provide "psychological first aid" and steps one can take individually and as part of a CERT before, immediately following, and after a disaster.

CPR / First Aid / AED: Covers evaluating patients by doing a head to toe assessment, establishing a medical treatment area, performing basic first aid, and practicing in a safe and sanitary manner. Participants practice diagnosing and treating airway obstruction, bleeding, and shock by using simple triage and rapid treatment techniques. CPR and AED training included.

Shelter Management: Participants learn shelter operations training

Below are some of the responsibilities of a CERT.

Operations Pre Impact Phase (Mitigation, Prevention, Preparedness Activities)

  • Promote community awareness of potential hazards and preparedness measures
  • Needs assessment (identifying special population and their needs)
  • Serve as the main liaison for the community to HMCI
  • Identification of potential hazards to the community and the residents
  • Convene meetings to organize and coordinate procedures
  • Assemble contact listing of resource personnel and equipment within the community.
  • Assist with vulnerability and risk assessment for community
  • Assist in the process of prioritization of needs
  • Notification of event to HMCI, 911, RCIPS, CIFS and any other emergency services.
  • Assist in the recruiting of volunteers from the community to participate in CERT Training

Hazard Impact (Operations, Response)

  • Serve as a local response unit and as the main liaison for the community to the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC)
  • Assist in community search and rescue and evacuation
  • Maintain contact with the NEOC and provide regular Situation Update reports.
  • Facilitate and assist the district response mechanism through the dispatching of volunteers for Shelter Management, Initial Damage Assessment, First Aid, Basic Search and Rescue and post event activities to include Welfare distribution.

For more Information about CERT or if you are interested in joining or establishing a CERT in your area, please contact Teresita DaSilva at Hazard Management Cayman Islands. Phone (345) 945-4624 or

Established CERT Team contact information