Photo Courtesy of CERT

Photo Courtesy of CERT

The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) will hold a free Emergency Training program on disaster preparedness and medical operations throughout January and February.

The training program will consist of three classes and will train participants to handle real-life disasters, including terrorism and homeland defense. For the course, CERT will work alongside the UCSB American Red Cross Club and Associated Students, which will provide backpacks, flashlights and hardhats for emergency situations. The trainings will be held on Jan. 24 and 31 and Feb. 6 from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the UCSB Environmental and Health Safety Building 565.

UCSB Emergency Manager Jim Caesar, who is on the State Advisory Board for CERT and organizes CERT trainings, said these classes are important to helping others during a widespread emergency.

“If we can learn to take care of ourselves, our friends, our neighbors, our family and loved ones, the better off we will be,” Caesar said. “These are important skill sets for our everyday life.”

Caesar said he is proud of the UCSB program because he believes it is the only university in the nation that offers a training course where students can become certified to teach the course.

“The CERT class at UCSB is actually taught by students to students,” Caesar said. “[To become a trainer], there is another 20-hour class that they take in order to become certified.”

President of UCSB American Red Cross and fourth-year biology major Heather Halaweh said she took the CERT course her first year at UCSB after becoming certified for lifeguarding and benefitted from the course’s triage training.

Photo Courtesy of CERT

Photo Courtesy of CERT

“Where lifeguarding is more geared toward a certain patient, triage training teaches you how to prioritize patients and how to take care of them within a certain time-frame,” Halaweh said.

Halaweh said after taking the CERT class, she feels more comfortable about potentially handling an emergency because she now knows what to expect.

“It is really empowering to know that you can help,” Halaweh said.

Fourth-year biopsychology major and CERT instructor Amanda McKenna said she became a certified CERT instructor because she is passionate about medical operations and believes the program prepares students for unexpected disasters.

“I liked the fact that [the course] gets the community together and prepares people for emergency disaster situations that they wouldn’t normally be prepared for,” McKenna said.

McKenna said she will be proud to see students complete a full emergency simulation at the end of the course to demonstrate what they have learned.

“We have our students use all the skills that they learned, anywhere from carrying people out of structures to triaging,” McKenna said.

Fourth-year history and political science double major Duncan Calvert attended the basic CERT course last year and plans to become an instructor.

“I think it’s a really important course for building strong community values and making sure your environment and community is safe,” Calvert said.

Calvert said he believes the course gives students the opportunity to learn about the emergency response process and prepare them to assist in disasters.

“It’s important in helping individuals understand how emergency services work and how they can help out or stay out of harm’s way in the event of a disaster,” Calvert said. “CERT is much more about understanding how emergencies work, and how individuals within the community can help other community members and emergency services do their job.”

To sign up for the course, students can email Jim Caesar at