Star Report

The Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians recently hosted the Santa Barbara County Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) for their sixth annual emergency drill and training.

The drill is designed to simulate a real emergency with multiple agencies reporting to the training disaster. CERTs are community volunteers who are responsible for utilizing the skills they’ve learned in training to secure areas, offer search and rescue, and administer medical triage.

“We had over 40 CERTs and 30 volunteers participate in this drill,” said Kelly Ferguson, Environmental Director for the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians and CERT Planning Incident Commander. “CERTs are a valuable resource to communities during disasters and the annual all-county drills are excellent training opportunities to practice and reinforce this training.”

The Countywide CERT Drill was planned in partnership with the CERT Committee as part of the Santa Barbara County Aware & Prepare Initiative. The CERT Committee is made up of Program Managers, as well as other agencies and nonprofit organizations.

The drill was held at the Tribal Administration building and included the Santa Ynez Tribal Health Clinic and nearby park as the incident sites. The five-hour training included a safety briefing, team assignments, an earthquake and aftershock drill, and debrief. During the training, CERTs were responsible for marking buildings and proper carry outs during search and rescue, setting up treatment areas, head to toe assessments, and utilizing proper communication tools in English and Spanish.

“When it comes to disasters, people do what they have practiced and not necessarily what they have learned,” said Liliana Encinas CERT Committee member and Public Education Specialist for the City of Santa Barbara Fire Department. “Large scale CERT drills allow our community to feel empowered and be better prepared for a disaster response.”

CERT training courses are open to the public and offered through the City of Santa Barbara Fire Department’s Office of Emergency Services. Courses provide basic education in first aid, medical triage, search and rescue, and fire safety. To learn more about the CERT program or to volunteer contact: