After the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, many Americans asked what they could do to make their communities safer. People really wanted to volunteer and to work together with their neighbors. President Bush created Citizen Corps and encouraged all Americans to volunteer their time to help others.

How does this work? There are four Citizen Corps programs:
These are CERT dogs
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  1. Neighborhood Watch;
  2. Volunteers in Police Service
  3. Community Emergency Response Teams; and
  4. the Medical Reserve Corps.

The Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) are overseen by FEMA. These very special teams are trained to help first responders in an emergency. What does that mean? In a large emergency, emergency responders such as firefighters, will be very busy. They will not be able to help all the people who might need help. This is where CERT comes in. These special teams are trained to help out. They can do basic first aid, help with evacuations and other duties that are very important in an emergency.

CERT volunteers may also help a community get prepared (find out more in Get Ready Get Set). They might help people learn what supplies they need on hand in case of a disaster and how to create a family communication plan.

Does your community have CERT? Find out in the CERT Directory. Choose pdf or text versions.

There are many partners in Citizen Corps, including the American Red Cross, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools within Department of Education, National Safety Council, Points of Light Foundation, National Fire Protection Association, Save A Life Foundation and the U.S. Junior Chamber. Wow! That's a lot of partners.

So what can you do? First off, be sure your family is prepared. Then talk to your teacher about school preparedness. Then, find out if there is CERT in your community. Even youngsters can learn basic first aid or help with providing information to a community. The bottom line is this: Get Involved!

To find out more about Citizen Corps and CERT, go to www.citizencorps.gov

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