NewsLocal News


Local first responders come together for National Preparedness Month

Posted at 9:15 PM, Sep 09, 2023

September is National Preparedness Month, a time when first responders across the nation raise awareness about how to be prepared for emergencies and disasters.

The City of Paso Robles is working with CERT, a Community Emergency Response Team to offer Community Emergency Response training courses this fall.

“Preparedness month is for everyone to get together; all the first responders to try to get people better prepared,” John Rickwald, a Fema Certified CERT instructor, said.

CERT is a program that gives people the tools they need in disaster situations.

“We teach them how to use a fire extinguisher to extinguish small fires, and how to do search and rescue. There is six hours of first aid training in the class and talks about the psychology of disaster,"John Spooner, Program Manager for the North San Luis Obispo County CERT Program said.

CERT teaches community members to take care of themselves and their neighbors in a large-scale disaster.

“Our objective with CERT is to get the community prepared as many people as we can get to take care of themselves in a disaster so that first responders won't be so overwhelmed with trying to help out people,” Rickwalk said.

Although certified instructors teach the course, they do not do it alone.

“We also use instructors that aren't certified but have subject matter expertise. For example, we might use a fireman to teach search and rescue or a nurse to teach part of the first aid class,” Spooner said.

They encourage families to take the class together.

“Any family member who is 15 years of age or older we encourage them to participate in this class,” Spooner said.

Scott Jalbert, Director of the Office of Emergency Services, explains why National Preparedness Month is important.

“Disasters can strike at any time. You want to be prepared before a disaster happens,” Jalbert said.

He gives examples of what you can be doing at home.

“Drinking water at your home, non perishable food for 762 hours, having a family plan that in the event that the family is scattered due to life that they can have a meeting place to make sure everyone is okay,” Jalbert said.

For more information on the program you can visit News Flash • Paso Robles, CA • CivicEngage ( .