Go To Search
I Want To
Click to Home
SealCity of Beaumont, CA
550 East 6th Street
Beaumont, CA 92223
Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Training

Volunteers Train to Keep Beaumont and the Pass Area Safe During Emergencies

Earthquake drills are always an invaluable part of training for volunteers in Beaumont, which understands the importance of preparing for potential emergencies.

On Saturday, November 2, 2013, Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) volunteers practiced search and rescue and triage operations during an earthquake drill. They learned about providing first aid, responding to downed power lines, using fire extinguishers, and how police officers handle emergency evacuations. 

The training was part of the Inaugural Mitch White Community Emergency Response Team Refresher Course for CERT volunteers. The six-hour exercise paid tribute to White, a former Beaumont police lieutenant and emergency services coordinator who passed away September 18, 2013. Rick Cook, retired coordinator of the Office of Emergency Services for Beaumont, had worked side-by-side with White. They taught CERT volunteers and were best friends for 25 years.

“I wanted to honor Mitch’s lifetime legacy of public safety,” Cook said. “And carry on his passion and dedication to training civilian volunteers for emergencies.”

Keeping the community safe
Seven years ago, the city of Beaumont taught its first CERT class of twenty people. Today, Beaumont’s highly-rated CERT program has trained 400 to 500 volunteers throughout the Pass. About 75 percent of the civilian volunteers are from Beaumont, though some volunteers come from as far away as Redlands and Hemet. 

CERT volunteers can respond at a moment’s notice for any type of emergency, ranging from natural disasters to helping provide shelter for displaced residents and others. The local CERT training is part of a national program by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

“Mock” disaster
During Saturday’s earthquake drill, young members of the Beaumont Rotary Interact Club played earthquake victims trapped inside a building. It took place inside a cavernous space being remodeled at the Beaumont Civic Center. The earthquake “victims” lay moaning and crying out in semi-darkness on the hard cement floor. Their pleas for help echoed through the cold, sterile room.

Outside, CERT volunteers worked out a rescue strategy with Diana Rockot, an emergency services coordinator for the Riverside County Fire Department, Office of Emergency Services. Once they got the go-ahead to enter, CERT volunteers pushed the door open and moved among the “injured.”  

Some CERT volunteers checked for injuries. Others led “victims” to safety outside. When it was all over, Rockot gathered the CERT volunteers around for a debriefing and to answer questions. “You are practicing for the real thing,” she said. “That event could happen tomorrow. It’s not if, but when.”

Valuable lessons
Many found the training invaluable and said they would be sharing it with their neighbors. At the gated community of Solera in Beaumont, Harold Hilbert is chairman of the emergency preparedness team, and Joe Veca is the communications team leader. They had completed 20 hours of CERT training in August before joining Saturday’s exercises.

“It’s good to get back into it and practice these skills,” Hilbert said.

Veca said the drill will make him more effective in the event of a real emergency. As Solera’s communications team leader, he will help emergency management officials coordinate volunteers at the gated community. “It helped me get a better grasp of the situations that we could be facing some day in an emergency,” Veca said.

Looking to the future
In all, 82 CERT volunteers participated in the hometown event. They came from throughout Beaumont and beyond—people of all ages and backgrounds. As the training session ended, Cook sat at a table reflecting on the day’s events.

“We’re a growing city, and the Pass is a thriving region,” Cook said. “In the event of a major disaster, there simply won’t be enough first responders—police, firefighters and paramedics. So we’re working hard to train CERT volunteers in every corner of Beaumont.”

Educational Information