Part of the reason natural disasters are so terrifying is they can strike a nation or community at any time. Being prepared for an emergency often begins with making a basic plan that can be adapted to any situation.  

Which is why two Community Emergency Response Training, or CERT, academies are being offered in Madison and Bonneville counties.  

“The real key in a disaster is being able to be quick and responsive and not frozen by the tragedy of the situation,” said CERT instructor Dave Warner. “Sometimes you need to think through these things in advance so you can have a plan in mind.”  

Warner and his wife Claudia were introduced to CERT while living in San Diego. After moving to east Idaho, they joined a local CERT team and began teaching a personal preparedness course as part of the biannual CERT Academy.    

“We focus on disasters that are anticipated and considered to be the most likely for this area,” Warner said.  

The CERT program was started in 1986 by the Los Angeles Fire Department. Learning from the civilian casualties that happened during natural disasters in Mexico and Japan, the L.A. officials began using CERT as a way to train community volunteers who could safely assist first responders during emergencies.  

“Many people who were killed or injured in those incidences were people who rushed in to help others, so there was a need to train community people on how to safely help others in a disaster situation,” Warner said. 

CERT program topics include terrorism and active shooter situations, light search and rescue, fire safety and triage. The program is free to anyone 18 years and older and lasts for 8-10 weeks. 

For information about the CERT Academy or to find classes in your area, visit and