Denton, TX -- Michael D. Brown, Under Secretary of Homeland Security for Emergency Preparedness and Response, announced today that Arkansas will receive $245,470 to train citizens to be better prepared to respond to emergency situations in their communities through local Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT). The grant is part of $19 million being made available to expand the CERT program throughout the country by the Department of Homeland Security.
"Homeland Security has provided more than $4 billion to state and local governments this year to support the efforts of first responders and help us secure the homeland," said Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge. "These CERT grants are a great example of the use of funding to better prepare America's communities."
"Through the CERT program, citizens are better able to respond to an emergency or disaster," said Brown. "This is an essential way for citizens to help secure the homeland by supporting the work of our professional first responders."
Each CERT member completes 20 hours of training on disaster preparedness, basic disaster medical operations, fire safety, light search and rescue, and other essential topics. The training also includes a disaster simulation in which participants practice skills they learned throughout the course. In the event of an emergency, CERT members can provide immediate assistance to victims, assist in organizing spontaneous volunteers at a disaster site and provide critical support to first responders.
The grant money is in addition to $17 million distributed through the FY 2002 supplemental appropriation. FEMA distributes the funds for state and local level CERT programs to each state and territory according to the formula developed through the Patriot Act. Arkansas received $222,507 from a grant made last December as part of the FY02 program.
The CERT grants will allow states to fund new programs and to expand existing teams. FEMA has a goal of training 400,000 citizens through the CERT program during the next two years. Arkansas currently has three active CERT programs operating across the state, including teams in Bella Vista, Bentonville and Siloam Springs.
For more information on the CERT program, please visit www.fema.gov.