A member of the Community Emergency Response Team assists an injured woman
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CERTs Help Communities Celebrate Earth Day

April 2022

Since 1970, communities around the country have celebrated Earth Day on April 22 with cleanup events and programs offering information on environmental issues. As climate change and increasing severe weather have made headlines, Earth Day events have grown. Because they are often held outside, many have continued to draw participants during the pandemic.

Although CERTs may be better known for assisting their communities in times of disasters and emergencies, they also help with community initiatives, such as Earth Day.

Last year, the Anne Arundel—Annapolis CERT in Maryland assisted with Earth Day for the first time. During the event each year, residents walk through the community with the county executive to pick up litter and drive up to dumpsters to deposit bulk trash. The CERT provides traffic management in busy parking lots and assists pedestrians. This year, the CERT will also provide first aid. County leaders asked the CERT to help because it had assisted with other community events in the past, said Brandon Gosnell, the CERT’s vice president.

The Anne Arundel—Annapolis CERT helped with a community Earth Day event for the first-time last year.

The Beckley, WV CERT also pitches in for Earth Day. Last year, CERT volunteers teamed up with the local environmental group Piney Creek Watershed Association. Bright orange trash bags in hand, they fanned out to clean up the woods along a busy road.

“It’s been a good experience. We all enjoy picking up the litter and making our part of the world a little cleaner,” said CERT Program Manager Chris Graham.

The Hamden CERT assists with traffic and logistics for the city’s large Earth Day event each year.

After canceling its 2020 Earth Day event and greatly scaling down activities in 2021, Hamden, CT, expects thousands of people to again turn out for the annual event. The Hamden CERT has been assisting with Earth Day for more than a decade, said CERT Coordinator Bob Freeman.

“Most of our activities are for logistical support like traffic and parking because of the large turn out,” he said. “But everything came to a stop suddenly in March 2020. We were instantly overwhelmed with points of distribution for food and masks, along with food deliveries to the elderly at home.”

With the festivities back on this year, Freeman said he’s looking forward to having his CERT help manage the 2,000 to 4,000 residents expected to again participate in the Earth Day event.

From Earth Day to emergencies, FEMA’s CERT program teaches volunteers about disaster preparedness for the hazards that may impact their area. Their help maintaining communities is just as important as providing assistance to the people who live in them. CERT volunteers learn about crowd control and traffic management, as well as basic disaster response skills, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations. Learn more at ready.gov/cert.

This article first appeared in the monthly Individual and Community Preparedness Newsletter. Subscribe here

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