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The CERT concept was first developed and implemented by the Los Angeles City Fire Department in 1985. The Whittier Narrows earthquake in 1987 underscored the area-wide threat of a major disaster in California. Further, it confirmed the need for training civilians to meet their immediate needs.

CERT became a national program in 1993. There are now CERT programs in all 50 states, including many tribal nations and U.S. territories. Each is unique to its community and all are essential to building a Culture of Preparedness in the United States. There are over 2,700 local CERT programs nationwide and more than 600,000 people have trained since CERT became a national program.

Locally, CERT was formed here in 2006, by Emergency Manager, the late Earl Loder. The six week CERT Basic Training course includes research-validated guidance for CERT programs to teach members what to do before, during and after the hazards their communities may face.  The current program falls under the auspices of the Cheektowaga Police Department.

Cheektowaga CERT has been involved in various emergency situations over the years; the latest being the Christmas blizzard of 2022, where CERT members stood up and staffed the Town’s emergency shelter at the Senior Center. Other activities include supporting the local food pantry during the holiday season.

The 34 member team currently meets at the Cheektowaga Senior Center on the last Monday of January, March, May, July, September and November at 6:30pm. Monthly training may include, but not be limited to working in a POD, shelter training, ICS (Incident Command), Stop the Bleed, severe weather training and other FEMA training.

If you or someone you know is interested in joining CERT, you can send email to 1st Lt. Ed Gutowski at

* Captain – Jeff Baetzhold
* 1st Lieut. – Ed Gutowski
* 2nd Lieut. – Steve Janis
* Safety Officer – Maureen Gleason

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