CERTips – Etiquette Edition By Earle Hartling

Okay, I know what you’re thinking, “an etiquette lesson from this guy?” Alright, I’ll admit I’m no Miss Manners, but I have been around this CERT thing long enough to have seen the potential for relationship problems between CERT members when participating in emergency response activities. I’ve seen conflicts happen during drills when we’re just practicing; if such incidents occur during the real thing, we could be in for a lot of trouble. The following are just a few of the, let’s say “behavioral missteps”, that I’ve noticed along with the problems they could cause.

Who’s the Boss?

If you remember back to the Incident Command System part of the CERT training class (you do remember, don’t you?), you’ll recall that every functional group of an emergency response effort has a leader. For example, from the Incident Commander we go down to the Operations Branch Director, then to the Search and Rescue Group Manager and finally to leader of Search Team No. 1. Each team, or group, or branch has just ONE boss who directs the efforts of his or her teammates in their area of responsibility. It’s not a democracy, it’s not a debate society; like it or not, it’s command and control. Otherwise, we have chaos.

Consider this scenario: Our Search Team No. 1 lead has been directed by the S&R Group Manager to search the top two floors of a building. Along the way, some injured victims are found. One team member insists that they abandon the building search and carry the victims out of the building, an argument ensues and nothing is accomplished. The team member that insisted on varying from their assigned task was WRONG! Even if that team had extracted the victims it had found, they would have failed in their mission. Why? Because now no one is searching the rest of the building and other victims that may be in there won’t be found. Every job is important and must be completed for the entire response “plan” to work. We’ve seen this during our final drills, and we’ve wound up with teams getting lost, victims left in the building, multiple teams trying to do the same job, etc. What the team leader says, goes.

This doesn’t mean that team members can’t provide input to the team leader. After all, two heads (or three or four) are better than one. Team leaders should respect this input and take it into consideration. For example, when a team member says, “I’m wiped out, I need to sit down for a minute and have a drink of water,” or “the ceiling in that room looks like it’s ready to collapse,” the team leader should not try to force the team to go ahead with its assigned task immediately, but inform his or her supervisor of the team’s change in status so that the response plan can be adjusted accordingly.


Did I sound like your mother? Yelling at a teammate to be heard over ambient noise or to warn them of danger is one thing, but to yell at them just because you’re ticked off is quite another. This kind of disrespectful exchange is counterproductive, and can affect the psychological well being of the victims we’re trying to help. I’m sure I wouldn’t feel too great about my chances of being rescued if the rescuers are screaming at each other and calling each other names. Excuse me, a little help here!

As bad as this type of behavior is during the stress of a real emergency, it is REALLY unacceptable when it occurs during a drill, when there shouldn’t be that kind of pressure. In this case, we’re not worried about what the victims are thinking about us, but what our neighbors and fellow Culver City citizens are thinking when they see us out in public acting like this. We want to earn the respect and trust of the general public because of our professionalism and competency, and we’d like to recruit new members to the organization because of our performance. Angrily shouting at other CERT members in the middle of the street does serious damage to our reputation and credibility with the community.

Why Charleton Heston Isn’t in CERT (aside from the fact that he’s been dead for years)

Because CERT is an unarmed volunteer group, that’s why. The sole purpose of CERT is to do the greatest good for the greatest number of people, while maintaining the safety of the rescuers. And for this reason, the carrying of weapons (knives, handguns, spears, bazookas, etc.) is NEVER PERMITTED during a meeting, drill, picnic, class or any CERT function, even a real-life emergency. And I know what you’re asking and, yes, a Swiss Army knife is an appropriate tool in your call-out bag. But you already knew that, didn’t you?

CERT’s mission does not include crowd control, security, protection of property, law enforcement or anything else that might require the use of a weapon. During a CERT disaster activation, we will rely on the CCPD and not untrained civilians with guns for security and protection, if that becomes necessary (just like the Fire Department does). Yes, I know that most of the weapons I previously listed are legal to own and some people even have permits from the Police Department that allow them to carry handguns in public. However, our policy is clear: you may not be in possession of a weapon during a CERT function. Period. If you are found with a weapon at a one of our functions, you will be asked to leave immediately and, depending on the circumstances, you may also be suspended or expelled from the CERT program. This is for the safety of all CERT members.

CERTips – Preparation and Response By Earle Hartling


Fire extinguishers hold a charge for only a couple of years, at most. Since it costs about the same to buy a new one as it does to have the old one recharged, consider a new purchase and a donation of the old extinguisher to CERT. These are used in the training classes, are recharged by the Fire Department at no cost to CERT, and are a part of CERT’s emergency equipment during callouts.

If you have a cell phone, make sure it is always fully charged and keep it with you during emergencies, such as a CERT callout, evacuation, etc. While phone service, including cellular, could be interrupted during a disaster, there is always a chance that it might work. Also, if your cell phone is programmable, make sure your out-of-state emergency contact’s phone number is entered in. That way, you won’t have to rely on your memory or have to look for a phone book that may be inaccessible.

If you’ve redecorated your bathroom with new towels, don’t throw the old ones away or use them as dust rags. Wash them and keep them with your callout kit for use during medical ops as bandages, splints or cushions.

Gas and electric utilities may be interrupted for an extended period of time following a major disaster. Make sure you always have a full tank of propane or extra bags of charcoal briquettes for your barbecue, so that you can cook during the outage. But remember, never cook with these barbecues inside your house! The gases they release during combustion can be fatal in an enclosed space.

When batteries go bad, they can corrode the metal contacts inside your flashlight, rendering it permanently inoperative. Store the batteries for your flashlights, headlamps, portable radios, etc. separately in your callout bag, and only install them when necessary. Or, pull the last battery out of your flashlight and put it in backwards; it will keep your batteries from draining, even when not being used. Just remember to turn it around when you need to use it!

Don’t throw away those little packages of silica that come with many consumer products. While you still can’t eat them, you can recycle them in the pockets, bags and compartments of your callout bag. The silica absorbs moisture, and can help prevent water damage to your CERT equipment and supplies.


To prevent scratches on you safety goggle lenses that could impair your vision, store them in plastic Ziploc bags.

Dehydration is a major concern for rescue workers. Always keep bottles of water in your call-out bag, and be sure to keep them fresh and safe by rotating them out at least annually.

Don’t forget to keep your energy level up by having some quick nourishment handy. Power, protein or granola bars are great sources of energy, and they don’t take up a lot of space. Just make sure to try them out before stocking up, because some of them can taste downright nasty! Also, if you keep your call-out bag in the trunk of your car, you’re going to want to store your snacks someplace else where they won’t melt or cook (learned this the hard way).

As we saw on 9/11, certain disaster conditions can generate a lot of dust and debris. Consider putting a bottle of saline eye solution in your callout kit so that you can flush out your eyes, if necessary.

Keep handy small containers of sunblock (because who needs a sunburn on top of everything else going on) and hydrocortizone cream (for skin irritation caused by your backpack, boots, etc.). Some of the pain reliever of your choice (aspirin, ibuprofen) might not be a bad idea, either.

Never underestimate the importance of dry feet. An extra pair of socks may turn out to be a lifesaver!

2017 Training Class Dates Set

The class dates for 2017 have been set. Due to Refresher Training this year for current members, there will only be two classes in 2017.

The classes are:

Course 2017-01

Tuesday, June 6, 2016 7:00PM to 10:00PM

Introduction and Orientation

Saturday, June 10, 2016 9:00AM to 4:30PM

Med Ops and Disaster Psych

Saturday, June 17, 2016 9:00AM to 4:30PM

Light Search & Rescue and Cribbing

Saturday, June 24, 2016 9:00AM to 4:30PM

Fire Suppression, Terrorism Awareness, Incident Command System, and Final Drill

Course 2017-02

Tuesday, October 10, 2016 7:00PM to 10:00PM

Introduction and Orientation

Saturday, October 14, 2016 9:00AM to 4:30PM

Med Ops and Disaster Psych

Saturday, October 21, 2016 9:00AM to 4:30PM

Light Search & Rescue and Cribbing

Saturday, October 28, 2016 9:00AM to 4:30PM

Fire Suppression, Terrorism Awareness, Incident Command System, and Final Drill

To obtain more information on our classes or to sign up, please go HERE.

Executive Board Elections

Good afternoon, fellow CERTizens

Our CERT bylaws require that we have an election every two years to fill the four offices that make up the Executive Committee of our Board of Directors: President, Vice-President, Secretary and Treasurer.  I have been asked by our CERT Board of Directors to head the Nominating Committee (as of now, I AM the Nominating Committee) to find candidates to run in our November election for these positions. The election will be formally announced at our September General Meeting (time and place TBA).

In addition, we have openings for several appointed positions: Logistics Manager (obtaining and maintaining the materials and equipment used in our operations) and Social Media Manager (maintaining and expanding our on-line presence through our website, Twitter, Facebook, etc.)

We on the Board sincerely hope that members who haven’t served in a leadership position before would consider doing so this year. It is vitally important for any organization to have new people who can bring fresh perspectives, new ideas and untapped enthusiasm to reinvigorate their group.  To help you with the decision, I’ve included at the end of this message the job descriptions for each of the four elected positions. In addition, the Board recently decided to activate a provision in our bylaws that allows for a fifth, at-large member of the Executive Committee. This member has voting powers on the Executive Committee, but no specifically defined responsibilities at this time.

All active members of Culver City CERT are eligible to serve on the Board in any capacity. Please take the time to consider running for election to one of our five Executive Committee positions, or volunteering to serve as either Logistics or Social Media Manager. Our organization is only as strong as the efforts of our members.

Earle Hartling

Training Manager

Culver City CERT

CERT Bylaws


All Board members are required to attend 12 meetings a year, all falling on the first Thursday of every month.  Absences are accepted but without missing 3 consecutive meetings.


Subject to such supervisory powers as may be given by the Board of Directors, the President shall, subject to the control of the Board of Directors, supervise, direct, and control the business affairs of Culver City CERT and the activities of the officers of Culver City CERT.

Maintain the vision of Culver City CERT while overseeing the overall proper scope of practice.

Develop activities to maintain membership retention and involvement.

The President may delegate his or her responsibilities and powers subject to the control of the Board of Directors.  In addition to all duties incident to his or her office, he or she shall preside at all meetings of the Board of Directors.

Maintain communications with the CCFD and participate in CERT related planning meetings with the Department and City Administrators.

Serve as public liaison to civic clubs, organizations, neighborhood watch and homeowners association, often appearing as a speaker.

Plan and coordinate quarterly General Meetings

Vice President.

In the absence or disability of the President, the Vice President shall perform all the duties of the President, and when so acting shall have all the powers of, and be subject to, all the restrictions upon the President.  The President may delegate any or all of his or her powers to the Vice President.


The Secretary shall attend to the following:

Bylaws.  The Secretary shall certify and keep a copy of these Bylaws as amended or otherwise altered to date.

Book of Minutes.  The Secretary shall keep or cause to be kept a book of minutes of all meetings, proceedings, and actions of directors and committees of directors, recording the time and place of holding such meeting, whether regular or special; the notice given; the names of those present at such meetings; the number of directors present or represented at directors’ meetings; and the proceedings of such meetings. The book of minutes shall also contain any protests concerning lack of adequate notice or dissents from members of the Board, if the protesting or dissenting members request in writing.

Notices and Other Duties.  The Secretary shall give, or cause to be given, notice of all meetings of the Board of Directors in accordance with these Bylaws.  He or she shall have such other powers and perform such other duties incident to the office of Secretary as may be prescribed by the Board of Directors or these Bylaws.

Culver City CERT Records.  Upon request, the Secretary shall exhibit at all reasonable times to any director of Culver City CERT, or to his or her agent, the Bylaws and book of minutes

Treasurer.       The Treasurer shall attend to the following:

Books of Account.  The Treasurer shall keep and maintain, or cause to be kept and maintained, adequate and correct books and records of accounts of the properties and transactions of Culver City CERT, including accounts of its assets, liabilities, receipts, disbursements, capital, and other matters customarily included in financial statements. The books of account shall be open to inspection by any director at all reasonable times.

Financial Reports.  The Treasurer shall prepare, or cause to be prepared the financial statements to be included in any required reports.

Deposit and Disbursement of Money and Valuables.  The Treasurer shall cause to be deposited, all money and other valuables in the name and to the credit of Culver City CERT.


The CERT Executive Board Election will be held at the November 3rd General Meeting at 7PM at the Vet’s Park Rotunda Room. For members that are unable to attend the meeting, online voting may be available on this website beginning October 31st and ending on November 2nd.

Candidate’s Statements

Online Voting