The Village of Oak Park | 123 Madison St.  Oak Park, IL 60302 |

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Volunteers to play vital role in emergency responses

When first responders in Oak Park need a hand with first aid, crowd control or search-and-rescue, they can count on a group of trained, local volunteers to pitch in and help out.

The Village’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) is now up and running, with about 25 volunteers trained and equipped to assist public safety officials in Oak Park and surrounding towns.

The CERT Program is all about raising the community spirit in the emergency preparedness arena, officials say. Volunteers will play a vital role in the Village’s disaster response and recovery capabilities.

CERT volunteers come from a variety of backgrounds, including health care and public education. Local school districts 97 and 200 also sent representatives.

Training was provided by the Illinois Terrorism Task Force and the Illinois Law Enforcement Alarm System, statewide organizations that coordinate mutual aid and promote preparedness.

Three, day-long training courses focused on first aid, basic firefighting and emergency response techniques. Hands-on workshops taught participants how to properly search using a grid pattern, which they employed to find an infant mannequin hidden in an urban area.

Training participants learned about what CERT is, what it means and why it is important to prepare ordinary citizens to help first responders.

Now that the CERT team is ready to go, the Village’s Emergency Preparedness Division, housed in the Public Health Department, intends to keep the individual volunteers motivated and engaged with future training in radio operations, forestry, advanced first aid, traffic control and weather monitoring.

Oak Park’s CERT team, which is registered through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, can be deployed as one large group or split up into several smaller response teams as needed.

For more information on CERT and emergency preparedness, call 708.358.5480 or email