As police and paramedics in San Bernardino, California, swarmed the site of a deadly mass shooting last week, they were closely followed by a team of volunteers trained to help first responders and victims.
In Indianapolis, the Community Emergency Response Team stands ready to do the same thing if and when a major emergency strikes here.
Last year, the CERT team was called when a massive winter storm slammed into Indianapolis in January.
"The 911 system was quickly overwhelmed, power went down, 211 – our connect-to-help system – lost power, so we needed to come in and answer phones in Marion County for whatever their needs may be," said CERT Volunteer Coordinator Kim Douglas.
Douglas' team of CERT volunteers is trained to help first responders in the wake of most disasters today.
"The more disasters that happen around the country, the more people are interested in being prepared and wanting to help their friends and families do the same," Douglas said. "I think that information that we see on the news all the time – I think that's reaching out to people to say, 'Hey, I want to be prepared as well.'"
Indianapolis Homeland Security Director Gary Coons said the area's CERT program is "phenomenal."
"It's one of the best in the country," Coons said.
The program has now trained 2,500 people in Central Indiana, and continues regular training programs.
For more information about CERT Training and their next scheduled class, please contact Elia James, Marion County Program Manager, by phone: 317.327.1478 or e-mail: DHS@indy.gov