"The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) is a nationally supported, locally implemented program that teaches people how to be better prepared for hazards that may impact their communities and trains them in basic disaster response skills such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations. Local CERT programs train and organize teams of volunteers to safely assist their families, neighbors, co-workers, and other community members during emergencies when professional responders may not be immediately able to provide assistance. During disasters, CERT volunteer teams perform basic response activities, including checking in on their neighbors following an incident to make sure they are okay, distributing information to the public, supporting emergency operations centers, and helping to manage traffic and crowds. This allows professional responders to focus their efforts on more complex tasks. CERT volunteers also support their communities by organizing, promoting, and participating in emergency preparedness events, activities, and projects."
Federal Emergency Management Administration: http://www.fema.gov/