The Benefits & Challenges of Campus Emergency Response Teams

Because they have strong partnerships with local first responders as well as robust communications networks and a significant number of faculty with expertise in emergency preparedness and other disciplines, institutions of higher learning can offer highly effective CERT programs.

<p>To reduce campus liability exposure during a drill, releases should be signed and completed before any class or exercise begins.</p>

Competition between schools continues to be an excellent motivator for personal and program development. Programs on many other campuses have experience in dealing with similar conditions and challenges, and discussion between CERT programs enables sharing of best practices and innovation across multiple programs.

As campus CERT membership grows, so does the impact of the training. In most cases, CERTs will not be primary responders, as campuses are readily equipped with professional responders. However, CERT members are more willing and able to take charge of even minor situations and are a huge help to responders by obtaining and providing necessary information quickly. During a major incident, campus CERT members have the potential to assist responders in numerous roles, such as organizational and operations positions, lifting some of the burden from a limited number of responders.

CERT programs have also branched out on campuses to assist with special events, academic functions, orientation and other events. It’s critical that these specialized team are trained, maintained and follow established institutional policies. 

Maintaining Momentum Can Be a Challenge

After attending initial CERT classes and participating in the CERT drill, enthusiasm for the program is extremely high. Every CERT graduate has received the famous green bag, a backpack that contains more than a dozen items for emergency use in the workplace or at home. But what’s next for the graduates? Without further steps, the CERT program can falter and fade.

As a result, there are many challenges to a CERT program at this critical point. How do we meet these challenges? How do we grow the program? What kind of sustainment training is needed? What are the liabilities to the organization? What about funding to provide CERT manuals, green bags and training supplies? Let’s examine some of the key challenges to a campus CERT program. They are:

Leading in Turbulent Times: Effective Campus Public Safety Leadership for the 21st Century

This new webcast will discuss how campus public safety leaders can effectively incorporate Clery Act, Title IX, customer service, “helicopter” parents, emergency notification, town-gown relationships, brand management, Greek Life, student recruitment, faculty, and more into their roles and develop the necessary skills to successfully lead their departments. Register today to attend this free webcast!

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