Texas county CERT program celebrates 20,000th graduate

The Texas Harris County Citizen Corps Community Emergency Response Team announced on Friday that it has trained more than 20,000 volunteer emergency responders with the graduation of the University of St. Thomas CERT class.

The most recent UST CERT class trained 51 student volunteers, all members of the Health Occupations Students of America, on basic emergency and disaster response. The class held the 20,000th student to be trained through the Harris County CERT course, one of the most widespread in the nation.

"The cornerstone of the success is a strong commitment to individual and community preparedness," Harris County Judge Ed Emmett said.

The CERT program is an initiative to teach community members basic emergency response skills to be prepared in an event where a professional responder may not be immediately available. The course trains students on basic fire suppression, light search and rescue, disaster medical operations, disaster response and basic emergency response.

All students in the program are required to take an intensive eight-week training and education course taught by actual first responders. The course teaches skills the students can use in a number of common disasters that can impact their communities, such as a fire or natural disaster.

"Harris County continues to support disaster preparedness through the Citizen Corps program and its community teams," Emmett said. "Trained volunteers are essential partners in disaster preparedness, response and recovery."