This Citizen Corps News Digest is provided by FEMA's Individual & Community Preparedness Division to highlight community preparedness and resilience resources and activities recently announced by federal agencies and Citizen Corps partners.

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CERT Training in Alaska Helps At-Risk Youth

Alaska Youth Military Academy delivers lifesaving skills training by offering CERT to cadets

A key partnership in Alaska brings Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training to at-risk youth.

Michelle Torres’ desire to teach Alaskan youth how to prepare for disasters led her to a new partner, the Alaska Military Youth Academy (AMYA). It now offers Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training to its teenage cadets.

“I thought it was a great opportunity to engage our youth,” said Torres, State Outreach Coordinator for the State of Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. “I think they are an untapped resource that are often overlooked.”

Torres found CERT to be a great way to provide an essential skill set to Alaskan teens. With many remote areas in the state, the travel expenses to deliver training pose a challenge. She found the perfect solution. Her agency falls under the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, which also houses the AMYA. The program educates cadets to bring their new life saving skills back home to these remote areas.

“Some of these kids come from very remote areas,” she said. “When we have them in the program, it’s an opportunity for them to learn a skill. What they learn, they can take to college or any other community that they go to.”

The AMYA serves 16 to 18 year-olds who left high school without receiving a diploma. The program focuses on helping them achieve their high school diploma or General Equivalency Diploma (GED).

This quasi-military program spans more than 17 months. It teaches academics and life skills with an emphasis on community service, responsibility, and leadership. The cadets spend about six months on base. The remainder of the time is spent in high school or working toward their GED.

Beginning in December 2016, Torres teamed up with the AMYA to train 25 cadets in a pilot CERT program.

The cadets loved their CERT training so much that she accepted 100 students for a second cycle. Over the course of 16 weeks, Torres taught four classes. She also partnered with other state agencies to help deliver the training. For the fire safety unit, she collaborated with a fire inspector from the Division of Fire Life Safety. For the medical unit, she teamed up with the Department of Health and Social Services.

Cadets receive school credit toward their Life Coping Skills requirement when they complete their CERT training.

“The cadets that complete the CERT training may go back to a community that doesn’t have a CERT program,” said Torres. “But that’s ok because they can share the skills they’ve learned with their family and community in the event of a disaster.”

Torres continues to push the program further and create a culture of prepared youth. After receiving positive feedback from the roughly 300 cadets trained in CERT thus far, the AMYA now wants all their cadets to participate. To address this ambitious request, Torres worked with the Federal Emergency Management Agency Region 10 to conduct a CERT train-the-trainer course February 6-8, 2018 in Wasilla, AK. Staff from the Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management signed up, as well as the AMYA instructors and volunteer members of the Alaska Defense Force. Now, these instructors hope to deliver CERT to every cadet who comes through the door.

“It is amazing,” Torres said, “to watch the kids from the beginning of the program to when they graduate.”

Torres attributes her ability to grow the CERT training program to strong partnerships. She works with state agencies, emergency preparedness stakeholders, and subject matter experts.

“A lot of jurisdictions are struggling economically right now,” said Torres. “This was a way we could collaborate as state agencies, share resources, and build resiliency among our Alaskan people.”

With such a successful partnership, Torres remains optimistic about the CERT-trained cadets. Quite a few of them expressed an interest in emergency service type work, such as firefighting, emergency management, and search and rescue. No matter what career path they choose, she wants them to understand how they can apply the skills they learned to different cultures, jobs, future volunteer work, and community service.

Torres will continue using CERT to create a culture of preparedness among the youth, one cadet at a time.

“Youth have so much potential,” said Torres. “They are gung-ho to learn. And they want to help, especially when you can put it into terms they can understand, like helping their neighborhood, their church, or their peers.”

Visit the Alaska Military Youth Academy to learn more about the cadets.


PrepTalk – Financial Literacy and Overcoming Liquid Asset Poverty

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) released a PrepTalk presentation that aligns with National Financial Capability Month in April. 

FEMA's PrepTalks work to spread new ideas, spark conversation, and promote innovative leadership for the issues confronting emergency managers.

The PrepTalk released on March 27 features John Hope Bryant, Founder, Chairman, and CEO of Operation Hope . He discusses financial literacy and overcoming liquid asset poverty. Operation Hope is the largest not-for-profit provider of financial literacy and capability for youth and adults.

FEMA encourages emergency managers to watch these PrepTalk presentations with relevant partners. Visit for more information.

PrepTalks are a partnership between FEMA, the International Association of Emergency Managers, the National Emergency Management Association, the National Homeland Security Consortium, and the Naval Postgraduate School Center for Homeland Defense and Security.


Deadline Tomorrow to Apply for FEMA's Youth Preparedness Council

Tomorrow is the deadline to apply for the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) Youth Preparedness Council (YPC).

If you know a good candidate, make sure they apply by March 30, 2018. The YPC is open to students in 8th-11th grade across the Nation.

As a member of the YPC, youth can:

  • Design and conduct local and national projects;
  • Add a youth viewpoint on emergency preparedness;
  • Help prepare their local area for emergencies; and
  • Give input to FEMA leadership and staff.

Adults working with youth should share the application . Youth should submit a complete form , provide two letters of recommendation, and their academic records.

Applications are due March 30, 2018 . For more information,  visit the Youth Preparedness Council website .


Post Your #SafePlaceSelfie

Share your #SafePlaceSelfie with the National Weather Service (NWS) on April 4, 2018.

The #SafePlaceSelfie event encourages individuals, businesses, and organizations to be ready, responsive, and resilient during extreme weather events.

Follow the tips below from . Make sure you know where to shelter, how to shelter and what to have with you in a shelter. Then, take your #SafePlaceSelfie, post it on your social network, tag someone in your post and ask, “Where is your safe place from extreme weather?”

  • The safest locations to shelter vary by hazard. Learn the sheltering suggestions for each hazard.
  • In some cases, it may be best to stay where you are.
  • Sheltering may be short, such as during a tornado warning, or long, such as during a winter storm or a pandemic. Stay in your shelter until local authorities say it is safe to leave. Take turns listening to radio broadcasts and maintain a 24-hour safety watch.
  • Learn more about managing water and food supplies in a shelter.

For more information, visit .


Sound the Alarm by Installing Smoke Detectors

Join the American Red Cross Home Fire Campaign by volunteering for its Sound the Alarm events.

From April 28 through May 13, 2018, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and its National Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Program Office, along with local fire departments across the country, will install smoke alarms for local Sound the Alarm events.

These fire safety events will occur in every state. Major events will take place in more than 100 communities nationwide. Moreover, this program offers local CERT programs the chance to attract and engage volunteers.

Consider volunteering yourself or mobilizing your team for a local Sound the Alarm event. The Red Cross handles the training, logistics, communications, and liability. CERT programs can use this as a simple and easy way to engage their communities, make a real difference, and promote their efforts!

Joining is simple! Follow these steps to sign up as a Sound the Alarm volunteer:

  1. Go to .
  2. Scroll to the bottom of the page. Enter your zip code to find a nearby event.
  3. Scroll down again. Click the region nearest you.
  4. Scroll down again to “Volunteer Opportunities.” Click the event that works for you. Then, fill out the short application.
  5. Be sure to type “CERT team/program name” in the Group/Organization field so FEMA can recognize your team.

Registration is open now!


Ensuring Emergency Preparedness Planning is Inclusive: Serving Individuals with Disabilities and Access and Functional Needs

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Region 2 and FEMA's Individual and Community Preparedness Division invite you to join a webinar on Monday, April 9. The webinar features best practices for responding to individuals with access and functional needs during disasters. This event will provide resources and information on Disability Awareness Training, the Americans with Disabilities Act (specific to Emergency Management), Inclusive Planning, and the importance of an inclusive approach to community preparedness.

Title:  Ensuring Emergency Preparedness Planning is Inclusive: Serving Individuals with Disabilities and Access and Functional Needs

Date: Monday, April 9

Time: 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. ET

This webinar will feature the following presenters:      

  • James Flemming, Disability Integration Specialist, and Kathleen Madigan, Disability Integration Advisor, FEMA Region 2
  • David Whalen, Project Director, Niagara University
  • Kevin Niedermaeir, Director of the Livingston County, New York Office of Emergency Management

You can access the webinar in one of the following ways:

I. Audio and Visual

II. Audio Only

  • Call into 1-800-320-4330; PIN 265976#

We hope that you will be able to join us on Monday, April 9!


Important Dates to Remember


Disclaimer: The reader recognizes that the federal government provides links and informational data on various disaster preparedness resources and events and does not endorse any non-federal events, entities, organizations, services or products. Please let us know about other events and services for individual and community preparedness that could be included in future newsletters by contacting:

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