CERT-trained WeHoans ready when disaster strikes

All photos by Cesar Barrios

On Saturday, April 29 several dozen residents completed FEMA-approved training and became certified in the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program. Captain Steven Harper of the Los Angeles County Fire Department facilitated the training that included basics of first aid, triaging in mass casualty events, basic firefighting, and light search and rescue, among other things.

Participants spent three Saturdays with Captain Harper undergoing a curriculum that included instruction, videos and hands-on experiences including learning to properly operate and aim a fire extinguisher (on an actual fire!) and culminating in a simulated mass casualty in the form of an 8.3 magnitude earthquake at the Aquatics and Recreation Center.

CERT was initially developed by the Los Angeles Fire Department in 1985 and has since become a national standard for training citizens who can volunteer by showing up to incidents wearing their distinctive green helmets and vests. Once onsite, a CERT volunteer can be called upon by professional first responders in many capacities as needs arise. CERT is now a program of the United States Department of Homeland Security and is taught nationwide.

Captain Harper is a 46-year veteran firefighter, having started his career as a firefighter in United States Marine Corps aviation, often on the front lines of incidents. Harper has been with the Los Angeles County Fire Department for 23 years and has been conducting CERT training for 20 years. Captain Harper commented, “People have a thirst for this training, and I want to quench that thirst. It’s our duty as first responders to share our knowledge.”

Councilmember Lauren Meister participated in the training, refreshing her previous training from 20 years ago. Meister commented on the importance of the CERT program, saying, “The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training is vital to a community’s resilience. When a disaster occurs – natural, manmade, or otherwise – those with CERT training will be more prepared to respond, whether it’s helping their own family, their neighbors, or the community-at-large. I, for one, appreciate the enthusiasm of those participating in the program, as well as the Fire Department personnel who lead the training.” At the conclusion of training, Meister distributed commendations to all participants and Harper gave out certificates evidencing each participant’s compliance with the FEMA-based curriculum.

Incoming Public Safety Commissioner George Nickle was also a participant in the training and commented, “CERT training not only prepares you to help yourself and your neighbors in case of disaster, it provides peace of mind. It feels good to have the confidence that you’ll know what to do if there is an earthquake or a fire or the unexpected. It’s great that the city offers the training.”


I echo what Meister and Nickle said about the program and I share their confidence that I can provide some basic assistance in times of need. I encourage all residents to learn who in your neighborhood is CERT trained, to recognize them in their green helmets and vests in the event of an emergency, and to consider becoming CERT trained. For more information about CERT in West Hollywood, visit www.wehorecert.org.


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1 year ago

terrific class. I was thrilled to to see fellow residents of all ages and diverse backgrounds and capabilities participate. I hope West Hollywood offers more classes/events in the future which train residents in First Aid/CPR, self-defense, and other situational/disaster/crime awareness in the same vein. It’s important for all of us to learn how to protect ourselves, not just rely on others to do so. Brandon G–thanks for posting, and please continue to publicize additional events or classes that come up. While posts about local crime often get the most comments and complaints, I find that informational articles like these can… Read more »

Be Prepared
Be Prepared
1 year ago

Perhaps we the residents should establish or re-establish neighborhood watch groups on general public safety measures and have several CERT qualified residents in each one.

Back East in our reasonably rural countryside since each landowner owned considerable acreage, folks installed generators in case of snow/ice storms and power failures. They also maintained Indian tanks & fire fighting equipment which they were skilled in using so when the occasion arose, they were prepared. Wall Street Attorneys were shoulder to shoulder with financial types to fight fires as a volunteer unit. It came in handy on several occasions.

Carlton cronin
1 year ago

Now we need the city to fully support its C ERTified resitntsythjroiugh the Public Safety Dept.

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