Building Community Disaster Preparedness with Volunteers: Community Emergency Response Teams in Illinois
Natural Hazards Review
The community emergency response team (CERT) program is an attempt to facilitate citizen response and preparedness across the United States. Predisaster planning and preparedness, as embodied in the CERT program, is becoming increasingly pertinent for those interested in decreasing the immediate and long-term, individual and community impacts of disasters. The study highlighted in this paper evaluated CERTs in the state of Illinois. In-depth interviews and short telephone surveys with local, county, and state CERT and Citizen Corps coordinators were conducted to understand the various roles that Illinois CERTs play in their communities. Programs varied from training active volunteer emergency responders to more supportive roles behind traditional first responders and nearly all saw roles for building community capacity in nondisaster programmatic functions. Rural CERTs differed from those in urban and suburban areas in their perceived need for self-sufficiency and lower reliance upon or availability of formal infrastructure and resources. Common challenges and future recommendations are discussed.
Flint, C.G. and J. Stevenson. 2010. Building community disaster preparedness with volunteers: Community emergency response teams in Illinois. Natural Hazards Review 11(3): 118-124