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A Citizen’s Eye View of Public Preparedness

A Small Proposal: Change The “C” In CERT From “Community” To “Citizen”

June 25th, 2009 · No Comments

In a recent Blogger Roundtable, new FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate while extolling the value of the CERT program misspoke and called it the “Citizen Emergency Response Team”. The actual name for these citizen-staffed squads is “Community Emergency Response Team.” Yet, Fugate is not alone in occasionally making that same slip. I hear it a lot from people in and out of the program, and I often make myself. (I remember during one deployment last year after a crane collapse here in Manhattan, a CERT team leader about to go on television was repeating “Community Emergency Response Team” to herself so she would not say what came more naturally to her (”Citizen”) during the interview. Well, she ended up saying it the correct way, but the reporter introduced the live segment by calling us a “Citizen Emergency Response Team”.

I would suggest that the government make the small change from “community” to “citizen”. The new name would more precisely describe what and who CERT is and would underscore the fact that it is completely civilian-staffed. Yes, we do come from the community, but what makes us unique in the disaster preparation/response system is that CERT members are all average citizens with other professions. I think there is also value in making the alteration to help promote the ‘citizen/volunteer’ angle of the CERT program with the public, the media and government. True, this is a small point, but as the program matures I would argue that it is a change worth making, particularly as the initials would still fit.

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Tags: CERT

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