To ensure a more equitable, culturally competent response to the COVID-19 pandemic and other emergencies, the Department of Public Safety Communications and Emergency Management and Arlington CERT are launching their first-ever Spanish-language Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) volunteer training. Read this news release in Spanish.
The free, virtual seven-week course will be conducted entirely in Spanish to best engage members of the Latino community in emergency preparedness and response. The cohort will attend once-a-week evening classes led by professional responders to learn how to care for themselves and others before, during and after an emergency. Graduates will be able to volunteer to assist the County in emergency response, including staffing pandemic response events like COVID-19 testing and vaccination clinics.
In Arlington, people who identify as Latino comprise 15% of the population but make up 36.2% of COVID-19 cases and 19.1% of COVID-19 deaths. The County hopes CERT volunteers can help design and deliver targeted COVID-19 information and resources to Spanish-speaking residents to reduce the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on this community.
“COVID-19 has emphasized the fact that people of color are more likely to be negatively impacted by disasters and emergencies,” said Dr. Aaron Miller, Director of the Department of Public Safety Communications and Emergency Management. “This is often exacerbated because emergency responders and policymakers do not typically come from these communities. Those perspectives, those voices: they matter. They’re essential to building community resilience. Programs like Spanish language CERT are important first steps in making those voices heard and in providing culturally accessible, appropriate information and resources to all of our residents.”
Registration for the program is now open. Classes are held entirely in Spanish and are open to anyone aged 14+ (joint parent/guardian participation is required for children under age 18). The program begins April 21, with classes held online on Wednesday evenings from 7-10 p.m. Topics follow national curricula developed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and include local hazard mitigation, fire safety, disaster psychology, light search and rescue, team organization, medical operations and terrorism.
The staff and instructors acknowledge that not everyone may have easy access to virtual technology required for virtual classes and are committed to conducting hands-on courses as soon as COVID-19 distancing protocols allow it.
Find more information at emergency.arlingtonva.us/cert or by texting questions via WhatsApp to the Emergency Management CERT liaison at 571-572-9383.