The Monrovia Fire Department is gearing up for another round of disaster preparedness and emergency response training courses for residents.
The Community Emergency Resiliency Team and the Business Emergency Resiliency Training program provide community members and businesses with crucial, possibly life-saving skills for when disaster strikes.
CERT courses focus on readiness and knowledge to put in play when public safety is put in harm’s way, while BERT tailors emergency preparedness to specific businesses with the goal of enabling local companies to continue operations after a disaster hits, officials told Monrovia Weekly.
Over three consecutive Saturdays — with the next round of training starting Jan. 28 — CERT participants learn emergency preparedness techniques, fire suppression and safety, disaster medical operations, light search and rescue, disaster psychology, team organization skills and how to conduct a disaster drill.
BERT curriculum takes place over six, two-hour sessions in 2023 between Jan. 18 and Oct. 26. Participants receive instruction on emergency response, emergency preparedness, fire safety and utility awareness, emergency operations and business continuity plans, disaster exercise planning and safety awareness as it pertains to crime and terrorism.
“BERT is more a planning kind of class, CERT is hands-on skills,” said Suzanne Dobson, emergency preparedness coordinator with Monrovia Fire & Rescue. “BERT is about being prepared, having a plan in place, surviving the disaster as a business.
“Hurricane Sandy is a good example, most of those businesses were wiped out,” Dobson said. “How do they keep going, how do you keep going and meet your contracts after a large disaster? BERT is a mix of dealing with the immediate disaster and how you keep going after the immediate disaster.”
CERT volunteers assist the community before, during and after disasters and provide crucial assistance to maxed-out first responders, according to the city’s website. The program educates residents about how to prepare for hazards and teaches know-how in disaster response skills such as fire safety, search and rescue, team organization and disaster medical operations.
“Training our business owners and community members to help supplement the fire department until mutual aid from another department can get here to help is crucial during disasters,” Monrovia Fire Department Capt. Nick Board said.
When public safety agencies’ resources and personnel are spread thin because of multiple emergencies happening all at once, first responders “can send help but it takes time, we need help from residents,” Board said.
Monrovia has 50 certified CERT members, who the fire department mobilizes during disasters and who also participate in public events and provide assistance to the community such as smoke alarm installation, Dobson said. Over 200 people have received CERT training. BERT currently has 22 businesses involved in the program.
“We have a robust program in Monrovia for being such a small community in Southern California,” Board said. “A lot of the smaller communities look at ours for guidance.”
Monrovia’s CERT program started in 2007, and several volunteers from that first class are involved in the program, Dobson recalled.
“In fact, several of them are now FEMA-certified CERT instructors and volunteer their time to teach our CERT Basic class,” Dobson said.
Free registration for CERT and BERT courses is available at monroviafireandrescue.eventbrite.com.
“CERT and BERT are basically community risk reduction, being proactive instead of reactive,” Board said. “It’s about neighbors helping neighbors.”