Volume 5 Number 3
January 18, 2008


Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) are not a new concept, in fact, there are 168 teams in the State of Florida. A few of them are even scattered through our college campuses. The tragedy at Virginia Tech University on April 16, 2007 shocked the entire country. 30 students and 2 teachers were killed by a lone gunman. Sadly, this incident brought to light the need for CERT type operations on campuses. The realization was that a college campus is a community on its own. They share many of the same vulnerabilities and hazards as any community and need to be prepared to deal with those situations.

On January 15, 2008, Dave Casey, Bureau Chief at the Florida State Fire College in Ocala welcomed 30 representatives of colleges and community colleges from throughout the state to the first Campus-Community Emergency Response Team (C-CERT) Train the Trainer program in Florida. The three day program is co-sponsored by Florida State University and the Florida Division of Emergency Management. The training was conducted by Michigan State University School of Criminal Justice under a grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Participants learned teaching techniques to take back to their respective campuses, as well as typical CERT procedures, fire safety, disaster medical operations, light search and rescue and terrorism.

Emphasis of the CERT programs, campus or community, focuses first on personal safety, then family safety and then the safety within the community.

Greg May, representing Gulf Coast Community College said; “this training gives me a firm foundation to assist in organizing and creating our own C-CERT program. It will also help me using staff, as well as students, in establishing a campus safety plan.”

The entire group braved the cold and wet Ocala weather to participate in and then teach practice scenarios. The FSFC drill tower and burn buildings came alive with search and rescue procedures, first aid, basic collapse, and even a fire extinguisher burn.