Americans responded to the tragic events of September 11, 2001, with courage and compassion, as well as a renewed commitment to doing good and desire to help others. In January 2002, President George W. Bush created the USA Freedom Corps to capture the spirit of sacrifice that emerged throughout our communities and provide Americans with meaningful opportunities to serve their communities and our country.
Citizen Corps, a vital component of USA Freedom Corps, was created to help coordinate volunteer activities that will make our communities safer, stronger, and better prepared to respond to any emergency situation. It provides opportunities for people to participate in a range of measures to make their families, their homes, and their communities safer from the threats of crime, terrorism, and disasters of all kinds.
The Department of Homeland Security coordinates and manages Citizen Corps in partnership with the Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services. Under the Citizen Corps Council umbrella, Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT), Medical Reserve Corps, Neighborhood Watch, Volunteers in Police Service (VIPS), and Fire Corps provide opportunities for everyone in America to directly participate in efforts to improve homeland security. Citizen Corps also partners with national organizations that advance the first responder-citizen preparedness mission as well as no n profit organizations and other federal departments and agencies that provide resources and materials for public education, training, or volunteer service opportunities.
Citizen Corps Councils
Citizen Corps Councils bring together leaders from law enforcement, fire, emergency medical and management agencies, local elected officials, volunteer organizations and the private sector to strengthen Citizen Corps programs at the state and local level and engage citizens in homeland security.
Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) Training
CERT provides training in emergency preparedness and basic response techniques enabling citizens to take a more active role in personal and public safety. Each CERT member completes 20 hours of training on disaster preparedness, basic disaster medical operations, fire safety, light search and rescue, and other essential topics. The training also includes a disaster simulation in which participants practice skills they learned throughout the course. In the event of an emergency, CERT members can provide immediate assistance to victims, assist in organizing spontaneous volunteers at a disaster site and provide critical support to first responders.
Medical Reserve Corps
Administered by the Department of Health and Human Services,
Medical Reserve Corps units coordinate the skills of practicing and retired physicians, nurses and other health professionals who are willing to volunteer during emergency situations and help with other public health matters. MRC unit volunteers also work to improve the overall health and well being of their communities and engaging in appropriate public health initiatives throughout the year such as administering youth immunizations and flu vaccinations.
Established in 1988 to help reduce local crime, Neighborhood Watch now incorporates terrorism awareness and education into its existing crime prevention program and serves as a way to bring residents together to focus on disaster preparedness and training.
Volunteers in Police Service (VIPS)
Volunteers in Police Service (VIPS) works to enhance the capacity of state and local law enforcement to utilize volunteers. VIPS serves as a gateway to resources and information for and about law enforcement volunteer programs. Funded by the U.S. Department of Justice, VIPS is managed and implemented by International Association of Chiefs of Police.
Fire Corps is a program to support fire departments by encouraging citizen advocates to serve in non-emergency roles. Through its partnerships with fire service organizations and local Citizen Corps Councils across the country, Fire Corps actively involves citizens in public education, training, and volunteer efforts focused on fire prevention and safety. Fire Corps is a partnership between The National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC), the International Association of Fire Chiefs Volunteer Combination Officers Section (VCOS), the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Fire Administration and Office of State and Local Government Preparedness and Coordination.
|Citizen Corps helps deliver the Department of Homeland Security's "Ready" campaign message designed to educate and empower everyone in America to prepare for and respond to potential terrorist attacks.|
For additional information about Citizen Corps, visit http://www.citizencorps.gov/.