What happened to the CERT Program in Louisiana?

Of all the stories to come out of Katrina, no one has talked about the CERT system, or Community Emergency Response Teams in Louisiana.

What in the heck is CERT?

From their website at FEMA, "The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Program educates people about disaster preparedness for hazards that may impact their area and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations. Using the training learned in the classroom and during exercises, CERT members can assist others in their neighborhood or workplace following an event when professional responders are not immediately available to help. CERT members also are encouraged to support emergency response agencies by taking a more active role in emergency preparedness projects in their community."

In a nutshell, CERT training prepares ordinary citizens to perform extra-ordinary duties that official agencies would do, until such time as they get on the scene, and augument them once they are.

In 2003, the State of Louisianna received $313,800 to train citizens to be better prepared to respond to emergency situations in their communities through local Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT), in the form of a grant.

This was on top of 1.5 million the State received in 2002 for:

"state and local responders and emergency management to become better prepared to respond to acts of terrorism and other emergencies and disasters. The funds are being provided through the fiscal year 2002 supplemental appropriation as part of President Bush's First Responder Initiative.

"This grant will give Louisiana and its local communities a down payment on plans to modernize and strengthen preparedness statewide," Allbaugh said. "This is critical to supporting first responders and preparing Louisiana for all kinds of disasters."

Of the nearly $2 million grant, $1.5 million will be provided for updating state and local plans and procedures to respond to all hazards, with a focus on weapons of mass destruction. The updated plans will help address a common incident command system, mutual aid agreements, equipment and training standards, interoperability protocols, critical infrastructure protection, and continuity of operations for state and local governments. At least 75 percent of the grant amount is required to go to local governments. The funds will assist local governments develop comprehensive plans, linked through mutual aid agreements, outlining the specific roles for all first responders (fire service, law enforcement, emergency medical service, public works, etc.) in responding to terrorist incidents and other disasters."

Seems the State of Louisiana got a whole lot of cash to prepare both professionals and citizens to prepare for disaster.

Here is the website of CERT Teams in Louisianna. With all these teams and all that money to train them, I wonder why the MSM hasn't said a word in print or TV or radio about whether they were activated, incapacitated, or what?

By the way, this isn't meant to be a "A-ha! gotcha", on Louisiana. I'm just interested to see how well they did. If anyone knows, let me know.

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