This article has been shared with the SHTFplan community by long time contributor and emergency response professional Prepared Pastor.
It had been several years since I left my positions on the city fire department and county HAZMAT team to move to the mountain state to teach wilderness survival and firearms, but I still missed being an emergency responder. Especially after moving to town when I got married and started a family. When a friend asked me to join him at a CERT training session, all I knew was that it was an acronym for Community Emergency Response Team. A rational person would think that meant it was about becoming part of a team within my community that responded to emergencies. A rational person would be mistaken. Sure, the training covered the basics of first aid, emergency preparedness, fire safety, light search and rescue, etc., but lacked the depth of a boy scout merit badge on those topics. I could not help wondering why FEMA would spend so many of our tax dollars to duplicate duties that, in my professional experience, the American Red Cross and other nonprofit organizations provide for free.
I left the first day of training thinking that CERT, like many other government bureaucracies was just another hole the federal government pours money into hoping it will leach into productivity. I was tempted not to complete the training, but not being a quitter and already halfway to earning a really neat emergency response kit to add to the plethora of gear collected over a lifetime in emergency services, I resigned myself to spending another beautiful Saturday in a folding metal chair or aiming an electronic fire extinguisher at digital flames (we actually did this).
I was surprised to find that this particular CERT team had never actually responded to an emergency. They were put on alert once which the commander was quite excited to talk about. He told us one day CERT volunteers could be paired with uniformed emergency responders when an incident required additional manpower. Another surprise was the speaker they brought in from the U.S. Department of Justice on the final day. The first words out of his mouth were a question, “Are there any militia members or white supremacists here?” While we sat there in stunned silence he continued to explain there was nothing wrong with belonging to a militia or being a white supremest as long as one did not did so within the confines of the law. “If men want to dress up and run around in the woods practicing their First Amendment right, I have no problem with that” he said. He then spent the next couple hours describing the types of behavior he did have a problem with and how militias and other organizations had been infiltrated, enticed to engage in illegal activities, and prosecuted for thinking they had done so. After several engaging tales of covert operations it was time for the real purpose of his lecture for which he prepared his only hand-out, Homeland Security Terrorist Indicators. It provided contact information for the USDOJ and FBI offices serving our area and instructed us to call them anytime we saw ‘suspicious activity’ which included, but was not limited to:
Individual’s residence contains little or no furniture Photographing or videotaping in public places such as malls Ownership of police manuals, military training manuals, flight manuals, radio scanners, or other communications equipment Presence of weapons such as knives, pistols, rifles, etc. in a residence.
Attached to the extensive list was a reminder that these were just a few possible indicators and if it doesn’t feel right, report it! BUT do not disclose to anyone that you did. During his talk, he verbally added to the list several common items including 100# propane cylinders. When I indicated that I had a couple of those lying in my yard until I could get them filled and returned to my cabin, he replied that my neighbors had probably called the FBI on me and that they investigate every report. If my neighbors did report my ‘suspicious behavior’ (which I doubt) then I either have an FBI file or an addition to my existing file.
In July 2010, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), at Secretary Janet Napolitano’s direction, launched a national “If You See Something, Say Something™” public awareness campaign –a simple and effective program to raise public awareness of indicators of terrorism and violent crime, and to emphasize the importance of reporting suspicious activity to the proper state and local law enforcement authorities. While CERT teams predate this campaign by 25 years, the evidence is overwhelming that the program has been realigned to confirm to that mantra. Other than public relations/recruiting activities, the only service opportunity presented since I joined was entering surveillance data during a large community event.
If you are concerned about the federal government spending your tax dollars to train your neighbors to spy on you, the shadow army they are building through their Incident Command System should keep you up at night. It includes 428,500 men and women trained (as per the 2012 National Preparedness Report) and organized into local units. Units which have established call-out procedures for emergency response that will work just as well when the emergency is you. Sure, there are those who will refuse to respond (I will be at my retreat), but many will submit to the National Defense Resource Preparedness executive order signed by Barak Obama on March 16, 2012 which redefined authority expanded under the 2009 re-authorization of The Defense Production Act of 1950. The executive order makes it crystal clear that any labor deemed necessary in a state of emergency may be conscripted at the discretion of the government.
- Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) are trained and instructed to identify and report ‘suspicious behavior’ to the FBI and other authorities.
- CERT volunteers are being actively used in covert surveillance activities.
- CERT volunteers are organized to work with local and federal law enforcement agencies.
- CERT volunteers may be forced into service in the event of a national emergency.
It is not the purpose of this article to tell you whether or not to join a CERT Team. The training is beneficial to newbies. The free meals and emergency kit are quite nice. At least with our team it is acceptable to get trained and equipped and not go through the credentialing process to be called out during emergencies. It could not hurt to have a county ID and CERT uniform (helmet and vest) if caught on the road WTSHTF. However, their threat to your personal privacy today and, in a worst case scenario, your personal liberty tomorrow must be disclosed. Those who question how authorities would know where to confiscate unregistered guns under martial law can expect their neighbors to rat them out and quite possibly accompany law enforcement to their homes.
About Prepared Pastor:
Before entering the ministry, I was a firefighter, HAZMAT, confined space, and rope rescue technician. I also taught wilderness survival and shooting sports for the BSA. An experienced author and speaker, I have spoken on emergency preparedness at churches and secular conferences.