Welcome back to training in Holden, Massachusetts.

Today we wrapped up our first of two classes, Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Program Manager.  As I mentioned yesterday, we’re here in Holden, Massachusetts working with the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) conducting CERT Program Manager and Train-the-Trainer classes.

When we got underway this morning, we picked up where we left off at the end of the day yesterday, talking about “Acquiring and managing program resources”.  In this unit, the key discussion items dealt with the physical resources that a typical CERT program will need, where to find them, and what they might cost.  Another resource that a CERT program has is information.  Good data and information are essential support for almost all aspects of the program.  That data and information needs to be collected and maintained in an organized manner.  The final topic in this unit addressed Budgeting and Funding – what to include in a budget and where to find funding to cover the budget.

The remainder of the class was spent covering the following topics:

Delivering and managing effective training and exercises

Delivering training and providing refresher exercises are essential to creating and maintaining a credible CERT program.  In this unit we talked about training and exercises that are required, recommended, or suggested for CERT volunteers.   Specifically, we explained how instructors are able to tailor content from CERT Basic Training to reflect local interests, identify tasks required for managing CERT classes, the elements of a CERT “Training and Exercise Plan”, how to ensure safety during training and exercises, the policies and procedures for operating a local CERT program, how to evaluate and sustain the program.

Policies and Procedures

Like other well managed programs, we talked about why policies and procedures are necessary for running a successful program.  We started out talking about the differences between policies and procedures and why we need to document what our programs will do and how we plan to do it.  We reviewed the key policies and procedures that a CERT program needs to operate smoothly and effectively, and who needs to provide input when a policy or procedure is developed with special emphasis on addressing liability concerns.

One policy that seems to be getting a lot of attention these days is that which deals with “social media”.  CERT Program Managers should ensure that they have a well-written policy in place that addresses what is, and isn’t acceptable use of social media.

Program evaluation

Successful programs must have a process for how it is evaluated and measured for effectiveness.  CERT Programs are no different.  Evaluation is the process by which the Program Manager is able to identify appropriate changes and continuous improvements that will keep the CERT program fully functional.  One of the reasons that program evaluation is done is to ensure consistency in day-to-day operational activities.  By asking “How well are we doing?” the Program Manager is scrutinizing the program’s accomplishments and verifying that they are meeting the standards the program has set.

We also talked about what to evaluate in a CERT Program and how that evaluation might take place using a simple four-step process:

  1. decide what you want to learn.
  2. figure out a strategy for collecting the information.
  3. collect the information, and lastly
  4. analyze the information you collect and decide on the next steps.

In the end, the data we collect from our evaluation feeds into a Program Report that is shared with key stakeholders to report progress.

Keeping your program going

In this final unit of the class we addressed the knowledge, skills, and abilities a Program Manager must possess in order to coordinate a program, the elements necessary for sustaining a program, and a technique for identifying program activities that contribute most significantly to program maintenance.

Well, I hope you’ll join me tomorrow as we start our second class – CERT Train-the-Trainer.  Many of our Program Manager students are staying with us and have said they are excited about learning how to be better instructors.  So, c’mon back.


One Response to Welcome back to training in Holden, Massachusetts.

  1. Louis Burney Baggett says:

    Sounds like a great training exercise. Keep up the ggod work!


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