Wood County CERT Logo Wood County
Community Emergency Response Team

Welcome to
Wood County CERT

A nationally accredited, formally trained organization of local citizen
volunteers working with First Responders to help grow and strengthen
the public safety network in Wood County
Please note: All the information on this website refers to what Wood County CERT was trying to be before it was
shut down in April 2014, and what we intend to be when if and when the program is ever re-activated.


Community Alerts CERT Photos
Member Alerts

This Website is for Historical Purposes Only

During the 2012 derecho disaster, the Community Emergency Response Team volunteers worked more than 2,100 hours, providing emergency relief in Wood and Wirt Counties. The program was deactivated in April 2014 because the Wood County Commission determined that the citizens of Wood County did not need the CERT program. On January 2, 2024, I created a new Facebook page on which we will be re-posting posts from CERT organizations around the country showing what Wood County is missing by not having an active Community Emergency Response Team.

If you feel a Wood County CERT program would be beneficial, please petition your city’s Police and/or Fire Department, the Wood County Sheriff, Wood County Homeland Security and Emergency Management, the Local Emergency Planning Committee, or the Wood County Commission.

Everything below this line is for historical purposes only.

Important Status Update: CERT to be Resurrected??

Wood County CERT - Rest In Peace
Empty Tomb

Monday, June 27, 2016: Over the past couple of months we have been engaged in discussions with some of the candidates for local office who were successful in the primary elections, and we have received a few commitments that if they are successful in the November general election they will be very supportive of resurrecting Wood County CERT under the sponsorship of a legitimate government emergency response agency (see the sponsorship requirements below). In anticipation of a successful resurrection of the program, we are in the process of building a new team that will be prepared to “hit the ground running” when these new officials take office in January 2017.

We want to make sure that by January we have all of our offices filled and that everyone who wants to be involved has completed the required training. Our minimum training requirements for all members include completion of CERT Basic Training, plus IS-100 and IS-700. Please CLICK HERE for information on applying for membership. (CLICK HERE for a detailed description of qualifications.) We are also recruiting a core group of “professional” first responders from local agencies to serve as an advisory committee to help oversee the program and ensure that we are building a CERT program that will effectively meet the actual needs of our communities.

Although we will not be able to respond as an “official” CERT until after we obtain the formal government sponsorship required, we will be able to organize, train, and prepare to be ready to become active as soon as that sponsorship is obtained.  If you wish to become a member of Wood County CERT, please download an application for membership and mail it to Rick Sawyer, Director, Wood County CERT, 2600 Unity Plaza Apt 507, Parkersburg, WV 26101-7162. If you have prior CERT experience and are interested in being an officer, please email either Rick Sawyer or Bob Mercer with your qualifications.

CERT in Wood County

A critical part of America’s National Response Framework (NRF), the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program is a nationwide volunteer agency operating under the umbrella of the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) to help train people to be better prepared to respond to emergency situations in their communities. When emergencies happen, CERT members can give critical support to first responders, provide immediate assistance to victims, and organize spontaneous volunteers at a disaster site. CERT members can also help with non-emergency projects that help improve the safety of the community. CERT is about readiness, people helping people, rescuer safety, and doing the greatest good for the greatest number.

The CERT Basic Training course is taught (or supervised) in the community by a trained team of first responders who have completed a CERT Train-the-Trainer course conducted by their state training office for emergency management, or FEMA's Emergency Management Institute (EMI). CERT Basic Training includes disaster preparedness, disaster fire suppression, basic disaster medical operations (mass-casualty triage and first aid), and light search and rescue operations. CERT members are trained to function within the strict guidelines of the National Incident Management System (NIMS) and Incident Command System (ICS) that are used by all emergency response agencies in America.

Sponsorship Requirements. To operate legally within a local government jurisdiction, the CERT program must be sponsored by a government emergency planning or response agency within that jurisdiction, such as the Office of Emergency Management (OEM), fire department, law enforcement (police department or sheriff’s office), or Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC). Other agencies and private companies may sponsor CERT programs, but those volunteers are limited to providing services only within the limited scope and jurisdiction of their sponsoring organization.[1]

For a bit over three years, Wood County CERT provided these services for the citizens of Wood County, West Virginia, under the umbrella of Mid-Ohio Valley (MOV) Regional CERT, which was sponsored by the MOV Health Department. However, we found that under their sponsorship, by FEMA regulations, we would be limited to helping the Health Department deal with health emergencies only.

We wanted to provide the full services that the CERT program was developed to do, and we had a working Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Wood County Office of Emergency Management (OEM) to do so. However, in order to continue to function as desired, we needed the “legal” sponsorship of an official government “emergency response” agency as required by FEMA. We approached the Wood County OEM for sponsorship, and were told that he would try to obtain authorization from the Wood County Commission. After an extended delay, in April 2014 we were told that the Commission was reluctant to allow the OEM to sponsor the program. We then went directly to the Commission and were told that they felt that permitting well-trained and nationally-accredited citizen volunteers to assist their friends and neighbors in the event of a disaster during which local first responders have become overwhelmed (as they were during the Derecho and Super Storm Sandy of 2012) created an unacceptable “liability” for the county.

Without legal sponsorship, the Wood County CERT program was forced shut down, leaving Wood County one of the few counties in the state of West Virginia that does not have a viable CERT program to help assist its citizens in the event of a community disaster. (Mid-Ohio Valley Regional CERT continues under the Health Department, but their ability to respond is limited to health emergencies only.)

A Brief History of the CERT Program

1985: The idea to train volunteers from the community to assist emergency service personnel during large natural disasters began. In February of 1985, a group of Los Angeles City officials went to Japan to study its extensive earthquake preparedness plans. The group encountered an extremely homogenous society that had taken extensive steps to train entire neighborhoods in one aspect of alleviating the potential devastation that would follow a major earthquake. These single-function neighborhood teams were trained in either fire suppression, light search and rescue operations, first aid, or evacuation.

In September of 1985, a Los Angeles City investigation team was sent to Mexico City following an earthquake there that registered a magnitude 8.1 on the Richter scale and killed more than 10,000 people and injured more than 30,000. Mexico City had no training program for citizens prior to the disaster. However, large groups of volunteers organized themselves and performed light search and rescue operations. Volunteers are credited with more than 800 successful rescues; unfortunately, more than 100 of these untrained volunteers died during the 15-day rescue operation.

The lessons learned in Mexico City strongly indicated that a plan to train volunteers to help themselves and others, and become an adjunct to government response, was needed as an essential part of overall preparedness, survival, and recovery.

1986: The City of Los Angeles Fire Department developed a pilot program to train a group of leaders in their Neighborhood Watch organization. A concept developed involving multi-functional volunteer response teams with the ability to perform basic fire suppression, light search and rescue, and first aid. This first team of 30 people completed training in early 1986 and proved that the concept was viable through various drills, demonstrations, and exercises. Expansion of the program, however, was not feasible due to limited City resources, until an event occurred in 1987 that impacted the entire area.

1987: On October 1, 1987, the Whittier Narrows earthquake vividly underscored the threat of an area-wide major disaster, and demonstrated the need to expedite the training of civilians to prepare for earthquakes and other emergencies. Following the Whittier Narrows earthquake, the City of Los Angeles took an aggressive role in protecting the citizens of Los Angeles by creating the Disaster Preparedness Division (now the Disaster Preparedness Section) within the Los Angeles Fire Department. Their objectives included:

  • Educate and train the public and government sectors in disaster preparedness
  • Research, evaluate, and disseminate disaster information
  • Develop, train, and maintain a network of Community Emergency Response Teams (CERTs).

1993: The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) decided to make the concept and program available to communities nationwide. The Emergency Management Institute (EMI), in cooperation with the LAFD, expanded the CERT materials to make them applicable to all hazards.

2002: In January 2002, CERT became part of the Citizen Corps, a unifying structure to link a variety of related volunteer activities to expand a community's resources for crime prevention and emergency response.

2012: By 2012, CERT programs were offered in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and six foreign countries. There are pressently over 2,600 registered CERT programs in the United States.

Just by way of reference, the Los Angeles Fire Department CERT program has been successfully operating since 1986 with over 30,000 active citizen volunteer members. For additional information about CERT, visit FEMA.gov.

Find Nearby CERT programs: locate CERT programs by zip code and inquire about disaster training and volunteer opportunities near you!


   1. Private companies, schools, and other government and non-government organizations may sponsor extremely-limited CERT programs to provide in-house emergency services only. For example, a company or school may use the CERT program to train their in-house or on-campus emergency response personnel, or a local health department may form a CERT to assist with health-related emergencies. These CERT personnel can only function on the sponsor’s property or within the scope of the sponsor’s immediate area of responsibility. [RETURN]

Page last revised on Saturday, 20 August 2016

Page last updated Wednesday January 03, 2024 11:37 AM -0500
(Updates are generally minor formatting or editorial changes.
Major content changes are identified as "Revisions”)

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