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HOMELAND SECURITY HELPS TRAIN CITIZENS FOR EMERGENCIES WITH $19 MILLION FOR COMMUNITY EMERGENCY RESPONSE TEAMS

05-29-2003

OLATHE, KAN. ? Michael D. Brown, Under Secretary of Homeland Security for Emergency Preparedness and Response, announced today the availability of $19 million in grant money to train citizens to be better prepared to respond to emergency situations in their communities through local Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT).  Brown made the announcement at a meeting with CERT members from the city of Olathe, Kan., who assisted first responders after tornadoes devastated areas of Kansas earlier this month.

"Homeland Security has provided more than $4 billion to state and local governments this year to support the efforts of first responders and help us secure the homeland," said Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge.  "These CERT grants are a great example of the use of funding to better prepare America?s communities."

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.

"Through the CERT program, citizens are better able to respond to an emergency or disaster," said Brown.  "This is an essential way for citizens to help secure the homeland by supporting the work of our professional first responders."

The grant money represents the FY03 funds made available to expand the CERT program, and is in addition to $17 million distributed through the FY 02 supplemental appropriation.  The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will distribute the funds for state and local level CERT programs to each state and territory according to the formula developed through the Patriot Act.  The CERT grants will allow states to fund new programs and to expand existing teams.  FEMA has a goal of training 400,000 citizens through the CERT program during the next two years.