In Case of Emergency: CERT trainings prepare Tulalip for Disaster

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

Disasters strike at any given moment. Whether it’s weather, like the recent snowstorm in the Pacific Northwest, earthquakes, forest fires or tsunamis, it’s important to be prepared for natural disasters to ensure the safety and survival for yourself, your family and community. Twice a year, the Tulalip Tribes Office of Emergency Management hosts Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) trainings at the Tulalip Administration Building. The course teaches local citizens how to be prepared and how to respond when an unexpected emergency or disaster occurs. Twenty community members recently began their eleven-week CERT journey to help provide a safer tomorrow for Tulalip.

“Throughout this course, you will become more self-reliant and be able to help your community base,” Tulalip Emergency Preparedness Manager, Ashlynn Danielson, explained to the class.  “When a disaster strikes, everyone would like help from professional first responders immediately, but the reality is, bridges can be down and roads can be closed. How many times have we had a windstorm where Marine Drive had several trees down and PUD couldn’t get to us for hours? Our overall goal is to create a more resilient community. We want you to have tools and knowledge to be able to set a shelter in place and be able to help thy neighbor and move forward from there.”

The course is an extensive, interactive program where students must pass a series of tests and emergency drills in order to graduate and receive a certified CERT certificate. The trainings cover fire safety, medical operation and triage, team organization, utility control, and damage assessment as well as search and rescue. Students also assemble their own go-bags, or survival kits, to take home and are encouraged to make go-bags with their families.

“A go-bag is essential and needs to be on hand in case of an emergency,” states CERT Trainer, Eric Cortez. “Your go-bag covers your basic human needs as far as security, shelter, food, water, medical and all the essentials. Go-bags are different for everybody because everyone has different needs. What I normally carry is a knife. I always keep a cutting tool on me because it’s useful. You can do a lot with a cutting tool; you can manufacture other items to make your survival situation better. I also carry a flashlight. A flashlight is used often and it’s the first form of security in most situations. And a bandana for medical purposes.”

In emergency situations, when medical attention is required but cannot be accessed, CERT trainees learn how to provide basic medical assistance until first responders arrive. Students also learn how to properly inspect their neighborhoods for any extensive damage, hazardous areas or injuries to their neighbors; and conduct detailed reports for the proper authorities.

“[CERT] is important to our community because our rez is long,” states CERT student and Tulalip tribal member, Margie Santibanez. “We need to have a plan in place for everybody to be checked on. I think more tribal members need to attend these classes, especially because we have so many housing developments. We need to make sure our people are safe, our elders are safe, our youth are safe and if anyone needs help we can figure out a way as a community.”

“We’ve always been survivors as Indigenous Peoples, so why not be even more prepared?” said Eric. “We survive as a Tribe, we prosper as a Tribe and can get through anything together as a Tribe.”

Current CERT students will complete their training and graduate this spring. The Office of Emergency Management is currently in the process of developing a Teen CERT training program and will begin their next CERT trainings in the Fall. For more details, please contact the Office of Emergency Management at (360) 716-4006.

CERT is Offered Again at Tulalip



by Sandy Evans, RN, MPH, Tulalip Tribes Preparedness/MRC/CERT Volunteer Coordinator

Disasters can strike at any time and being prepared for these and other unexpected events is critical to saving lives. Each one of us has a responsibility to understand the risk natural and man-made disasters pose to our communities, and to recognize we each have a role in preparing for these events. We have a duty to build a Culture of Preparedness in which our neighbors, families and friends are ready for any disaster event, and to make our communities safer, stronger, and better prepared.

The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) concept was developed and implemented by the City of Los Angeles Fire Department in 1985. They recognized that people will likely be on their own during the early stages of an emergency or disaster. Accordingly, the fire department decided that some basic training in disaster survival and rescue skills would improve the ability of people to survive until responders or other assistance could arrive. For 30 years CERT trainings have taken place across the U.S., even here on the Tulalip Reservation several years ago. Our pilot program in 2015 successfully graduated 9 participants and finished on November 19th, during a storm-caused power outage! Recognizing the value of this program the Tulalip Tribes Office of Emergency Management and Volunteer Preparedness Team is again offering CERT classes to our community.

CERT Basic Training is a free, instructor-led course consisting of over 20 hours of instruction on topics such as Personal and Family Preparedness, Earthquake Preparation, Team Organization, Medical Operations and Triage, Damage Assessment, Fire Suppression, Utility Control and Light Search & Rescue that can provide you will the skills you will need to stay safe and resilient during a disaster or emergency.

Our next CERT training will be held at the Administration building in the mornings from eight to noon for five sessions over 2 weeks. Each class will last 4 hours. The dates are Tuesday & Thursday March 15 and 17, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday March 22, 24 & 25. Because this is during usual work hours, supervisor permission is required and participants will be expected to attend all 5 sessions, establish a three (3) day home survival kit, obtain personal safety equipment, and be a willing team participant. CERT is about people helping people.

If you are interested in taking this course, ask your supervisor if you can get this time off and request an application/release form at Tulalip CERT (