Will you have the tools you need to help your neighborhood in a disaster?

The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) was created in 1985 as a way to involve citizens in disaster response because sometimes first responders are not available. It was taught by the Los Angeles City Fire Department and has trained over 60,000 people.

SEPT21CERTMembers of the team had been talking about making disaster preparedness a priority in neighborhoods. In 2011 the Neighborhood Team Program (NTP) was created as part of that effort. Over the ensuing decade, the program saw success on a limited basis and in a limited area of the city.

CERT members realized the next step was to create neighborhood area teams throughout the city, so active volunteer members of CERT reintroduced the Neighborhood Team Program in 2019 and worked with the Los Angeles Emergency Management Department and the LAPD to create a more accessible program to appeal to a broader audience of Angelenos.

CERT and community members continue to reimagine the message and have been pushing neighborhood preparedness for disasters that include earthquakes, fires, floods, terrorism, and, yes, pandemics. Most, if not all, of the original creators of the program are gone, but the Neighborhood Team Program is still very much alive.

SEPT21CERT3webI am one of the CERT leaders who kept the program going to date. I lead the “South Bureau” area from West LA to Arlington Heights and from Leimert Park to Hancock Park.  I was contacted by a fellow colleague, Patrick Botz-Forbes, who proposed taking the NTP program citywide as was originally intended. I immediately agreed, and during 2020 over the course of some months, we added on some updates and modernizations to the original program such as a document preparedness package (which can be found at, monthly continuing education seminars, and monthly radio training sessions.  The resulting program was launched at the height of the COVID-19 disaster and was hosted online on Zoom. We immediately saw an increase in community volunteers.

There are three parts to the Neighborhood Team Program mix:

The first part is education, which starts with six lecture sessions currently held via Zoom.

- The first four lectures cover Basic Personal Preparedness, Disaster First Aid, Light Search & Rescue, and two-way radio operations. These are two-hour sessions taught by experienced Community Emergency Response Team members.

- The fifth session is “Map Your Neighborhood/Ready Your Los Angeles Neighborhood”  which focuses on teaching you how to map your neighborhood for hazards and help you figure out how to respond to those hazards as a team. This segment is taught by someone experienced with Map Your Neighborhood or a member of the Los Angeles Emergency Management Department.

- In the sixth session, LAPD teaches neighborhood awareness and security for disasters.

Once you have completed part one, the second part of the process is to have the attendees PRACTICE what they have learned through a series of exercises and drills.

Part three is actual team formation and the tools to create those teams, the writing of Map Your Neighborhood (or Ready Your Los Angeles Neighborhood – RYLAN) plans.

SEPT21CERT2webBy the way, when we talk about a “team,” we are talking about people, like you, who will be neighborhood responders when our professional responders are not available or around when a major disaster takes place.

Since the program relaunched in Nov. 2019, we now have active teams all over the city including Grayburn Avenue (Leimert Park), West Adams, Miracle Mile, MidCity, Westside Village, and Beverly Grove. Emerging teams are coming in Crenshaw Manor, Alma Park (San Pedro), and Venice.

The current program is administered by the Community Disaster Preparedness Foundation (a 501(c)(3) and still involves all of the entities mentioned earlier (CERT, LAPD, and Los Angeles Emergency Management Dept).

In the TNN readership area, our most successful neighborhood council program is with the West Adams Neighborhood Council. In addition to the lecture sessions, West Adams NC & NTP hosted socially distanced two way radio sessions took place, community pop-up events, and involved West Adams business community. It is the hallmark of an area taking control of its disaster preparedness and resilience efforts.

Are you interested in learning more about the Neighborhood Team Program? Feel free to reach out to me at  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or go to the Neighborhood Team program website at You can sign up, request the program, or even join in on continuing training sessions that take place each month. Everything we do is OPEN TO THE PUBLIC.

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Established in August of 2008 by writerartist Dianne V. Lawrence, The Neighborhood News covers the events, people, history, politics and historic architecture of communities throughout the Mid-City and West Adams area in Los Angeles Council District 10.

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Dianne V. Lawrence
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