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History

 

The Community Emergency

Response Team concept was developed

and implemented by the City of Los

Angeles Fire Department in 1985. It was

recognized that residents were

sometimes cut off from emergency

services during the early stages of local

emergencies and could be isolated for

some time after a catastrophic disaster.

With some basic training in disaster

preparedness, medical, and rescue

skills, citizens are better able to cope

and help others until professional

assistance can arrive.

The cities of Lakewood and Rocky River had started municipal teams. In 2006, Dale Kraus,

then serving as the City of Westlake Safety Officer, presented the CERT program to the Westshore

Council of Governments (WCOG). It was felt one regional team would better serve the residents.

The mayors agreed and the Westshore Regional CERT (WSC) was born. The Council is made up of

the six Westshore mayors (Bay Village, Fairview Park, Lakewood, North Olmsted, Rocky River, and

Westlake). Their purpose is to collaborate and cooperate regionally for the benefit of all residents.

Nationally, the CERT program is administrated through Citizen Corps, which falls under FEMA

and the Department of Homeland Security. First, all teams must abide by the national standards,

policies, and procedures. Second, teams follow the laws and ordinances of their sponsoring

municipality(ies) or organization. The State of Ohio and Cuyahoga County emergency management

agencies, the County Citizen Corps Council, and Cuyahoga CERT Association all share leadership

roles as well. Finally, team members follow the guidelines established for that team.

All U.S. states have teams along with certain U.S. territories and even some foreign nations. In

Cuyahoga County there are approximately 30 teams. Some operate under a single municipality

while others are regional or “closed” teams such as at Cleveland State University and Case

Western Reserve.