Trained CERTs help community during storms

The first named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season skirted past Jacksonville Wednesday and continues on its path north. And while many of us are breathing a sigh of relief -- there are those preparing for what may churn its way up the First Coast next.

There are more than 2,000 people in the Jacksonville area who call themselves the 'real' first responders and they're on the ground, living in your neighborhoods. Trained to respond when disaster strikes when officials are tied up.

Joey Smith remembers recent storms all too well.

He was thrown into the mix, during tropical storm Beryl in 2012 -- volunteering at the city's Emergency Operations Center as a CERT.

"Yeah, JaxCERT, Community Emergency Response Team," Smith said.

Smith works a regular 9 to 5. He's a computer support specialist for Xerox, but when disaster strikes he grabs his emergency bag filled with safety support items and hits the streets.

"Be the feet on the ground. The true first responders. You're in your neighborhood, you help yourselves your family and your community until the actual trained first responders can arrive," Smith said.

Smith has been a CERT for about 5 years. He now teaches other civilians how to help save lives.

From learning how to fight small fires, to search and rescue, CERTs are designed to handle extreme conditions.

If you are interested in CERT training follow these links:


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