Our region is more prepared for disasters and more resilient in the face of growing wildfire threats in part because of Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) that are ready to spring into action in the event of large-scale incidents that strain police and fire resources.
CERTs comprise entirely of trained volunteers who give their time generously to provide disaster relief to their fellow citizens. In recognition of their contributions, we are hosting CERT Appreciation Day today at the Padres game.
As part of our tribute to these dedicated volunteers, we will send our firefighting Aircrane – SkyMaverick – to do a flyover at the pregame ceremony, where 55 CERT volunteers will line the first baseline.
In addition, we have presented local CERTs each with a $2,500 grant, or a total of $50,000 this week, to support their ongoing training and readiness efforts.
SkyMaverick Has Helped Stop Numerous Fires
The largest water-dropping helitanker in the country, SkyMaverick is contracted by SDG&E to be stationed year-round at Gillespie Field in El Cajon to protect our communities from devastating wildfires. With the capacity to hold 2,650 gallons of water or fire suppressant, this massive air machine can drop the equivalent of what five fire engines carry.
The Aircrane can be airborne within 15 minutes and takes only 45 seconds to refill its tank. It even has its own Twitter channel - @SkyMaverickSDGE - where you can get up updates on its whereabouts.
Whenever the Aircrane is needed to put out a fire in San Diego or Southern Orange County communities served by SDG&E, Cal FIRE dispatches the Aircrane. To date, the Aircrane has been dispatched 69 times to fight fires, dropping a total of more than 880,000 gallons of water to help stop a fire before it has a chance to spread further.
Longstanding Partnership with CERTS
While our Aircrane attacks fires from the air, on the ground, it’s people – such as the CERT volunteers –who make a difference in the event of a large-scale emergency.
CERTs are trained in first aid, search and rescue, team organization, fire safety, among other skills so they are able to effectively and efficiently respond to disaster situations.
Some of our strongest community partnerships are with CERTs.
In 2009, SDG&E kickstarted a first-of-its-kind program in our region – we coined it SAFE San Diego – to provide grants to the 23 CERTS active in our county then. That year, we donated nearly $60,000.
Over the years, through our SAFE San Diego initiative, we have donated more than $500,000 to help ensure each CERT has funds to host workshops, training, outreach events and buy equipment for the individual region they serve.
This year marks the 10th year of our partnership with these special volunteer groups.
There are approximately two dozen CERTS in San Diego County. To see if there is a CERT in your community, visit this County Office of Emergency Services web page.
If you are interested in learning more about CERT training, visit Ready.Gov, which has extensive CERT training materials posted online, including videos and instructional manuals.