Training offered in English and Spanish to all community members ages 13 and older.

By Jennifer Ponce

Jennifer Ponce

When disaster strikes, every second counts. Will you be ready?

Morgan Hill residents now have the chance to prepare through the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program. The free training teaches critical skills to deal with emergencies from earthquakes, major storm flooding and wildfires. These disasters may impact our community with infrastructure challenges including long-term power outages, supply chain issues, and the need to evacuate our homes and places of business. They could even leave our community cut off without power or outside aid for days.

Graduates of the CERT program become part of the vital network trained in fire safety, light search and rescue, disaster psychology and more. They’re able to assist neighbors and bolster the city’s response when critical situations arise.

It is our responsibility to be self-sustained for up to three days since fire, law, and emergency medical services will be overwhelmed with priority calls for service. Thankfully, Community Emergency Response Team training is a free opportunity for residents to increase our community’s readiness to these disasters.

The CERT curriculum delivers emergency preparedness skills and trains students in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, disaster psychology, and disaster medical operations. The training is open to all and is a recognized program throughout the country.

CERT classes offer remote learning with a hands-on in-person disaster skills day where students extinguish a small live fire, learn how to lift heavy debris off role-played “victims,” practice emergency radio communications, and work as a team.

The classes are taught by CERT graduates who found an interest in the program, became instructors, and volunteer their time throughout the year. The Morgan Hill CERT program is under the Office of Emergency Services and assigned to a volunteer CERT coordinator.

The program is offered to all community members ages 13 and older. Training is provided in English and Spanish.

We’re also encouraging local businesses and companies to engage with this emergency training. This month Specialized Bicycle will be the first private business to have their Safety Team attend CERT training. Students graduating from CERT will be better equipped to help their families, neighbors, and if interested assist the city following a large-scale event. Those interested in volunteering with the CERT program may be called upon for planned events and when disaster strikes.

In recent years CERT has been instrumental in assisting with illegal firework abatement by patrolling the community and reporting any suspicious activity. CERT has assisted with missing person searches, perimeter and traffic control, and public education events.

Many CERT members now have their General Mobile Radio Service licenses and can assist the city with relaying vital information from their neighborhoods to the city’s Amateur Radio Emergency Services (ARES) in the Emergency Operations Center.

If city resources are overwhelmed, that information can then be relayed to the County Office of Emergency Management. ARES also provides backup communications to the Santa Clara County Emergency Communications System in the rare event 911 systems are done.

The local OES also offers an in-person abbreviated emergency preparedness seminar for schools, community-based organizations, faith-based organizations, and other interested groups. Community members preferring to learn at their own pace can visit the city’s YouTube channel and move through the “Do 1 Thing” program which walks through small steps toward being prepared for an emergency.

Details: contact the city of Morgan Hill’s Office of Emergency Services at (408) 776-7310 or via email at [email protected].

Jennifer Ponce has been the Emergency Services Coordinator for the city of Morgan Hill for more than 15 years. She is available to assess which option may be best for residents with the end goal of being ready for the next large-scale emergency.