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By Capt. Michael Lipka
CERT Program Instructor, Southern Nevada
Squadron Commander PCR-NV-802


We are all accustomed to the daily reports of hurricanes, storms, natural disasters and wildfires that plague our world. Most of us don’t think twice about it and move on from day to day living our lives knowing someone else will handle it. But for a few citizens and CAP members, that just is simply not enough. In the late 90’s a new group was formed in California that has now become a national corps of volunteers ready to help when everything goes wrong, these are CERT members (Community Emergency Response Teams).

Two and a half years ago after joining CAP, I came across an Operations entry in eServices that referred to this CERT program. Not many knew what it was and even less knew how to get the training. After doing a little digging, I found and took the 18 hour course at the Henderson Fire Training Center in Henderson, Nevada that taught me the basics of survival and simple tasks like triage, putting out fires, administering first aid, search and rescue cribbing, and performing searches in buildings with my “buddy”. But something happen, at the fifth week, I wanted to be part of this program and help to teach this to the community, CAP, and my cadets at the 802nd. Long story short, a few weeks later I was working for the City of Las Vegas through a grant from FEMA to teach CERT to Southern Nevada.

Soon after I began teaching CERT in the fall of 2018, I offered the first class specifically to CAP members in the wing. 25 CAP members from around the southern Nevada squadrons showed up to learn! I was amazed by the interest and the cadet participation. This year was no exception with another 20 members attending and others attending throughout the year at my other classes in various locations in Southern Nevada. It has now become a yearly event offered free to CAP members in the fall. In addition to the training, each member receives a CERT backpack full of equipment that almost satisfies the requirements for the ground team 24 hour bag!

With the enthusiastic support of my other CERT instructors, our sponsoring school Coral Academy of Science, Sandy Ridge campus and my seniors like TSGT Thomas Wireman, we were able to provide an extensive and realistic final scenario that included rubble, a rescue dog, simulated moulage, and fire pans using radios, stretchers, first aid kits and fire extinguishers. I plan to continue this tradition for CAP yearly and invite the entire wing to participate. So the next time someone asks you, “What is CERT?”, you can answer with a little more knowledge of what it is and who to contact. For more information about the program go to

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