It stands for Community Emergency Response Team. Ridgefield’s CERT is trained by the Department of Emergency Management, led by Fire Chief Heather Burford and Deputy Manager Dick Aarons. The free program aims to teach citizens how to protect their families and neighbors in the event of natural or man-made disasters — hurricanes, ice storms, terrorist attacks — in case the area is shut off from emergency services due to roadblocks or more pressing emergencies.

CERT members have been dispatched in a number of ways in town, such as in helping to organize the town’s emergency supplies, taking appointments for the H1N1 vaccine, and providing assistance during major town events like the Family Fourth. Once you’re a trained member of a CERT, the program offers a number of additional classes you may choose to take to expand your knowledge and focus on a specific area. CERT has a number of specialized teams that members may join in areas of communications, emergency sheltering, rehabilitation, the State Animal Response team — responsible for sheltering animals in emergencies — and team members who wish to work in the Emergency Operations Center at the Yanity Gym. The next CERT course in Ridgefield starts in the fall. If you have any questions or want to learn more contact Mr. Aarons at raarons@snet.net.