By Ken Striplin City Manager Santa Clarita has been hailed as one of the safest cities in the nation. This is thanks to our top notch partnerships with Los Angeles County fire and sheriff’s departments and the California Highway Patrol — in addition to an engaged community who looks out for one another. That does not mean that our city is immune to danger. We’ve had our share of wildfires, earthquakes and flash floods. In fact, the city of Santa Clarita has been declared a federal disaster area 13 times. When the next natural disaster strikes – will you be ready to help? More than 21 years ago, the city of Santa Clarita partnered with the Los Angeles County Fire Department to begin offering residents Community Emergency Response Training (CERT). This nationally certified program is designed to help families, neighborhoods, colleges/schools, faith-based organizations and businesses understand basic emergency/disaster response skills through training and preplanning. Trainees learn about fire safety/suppression strategies, light search and rescue, team organization, psychological first aid, and triage/medical operations, and the training concludes with a hands on disaster simulation at the final session. To date, the CERT program has successfully trained over 3,000 residents in the Santa Clarita community. As a CERT trainee, you will learn how to prepare for and respond to emergencies. Certified instructors from the L.A. County Fire Department and city will advise on what supplies you should have in your house, vehicle and place of work/worship/school; how much food and water you should have stored/packed; and most importantly, how to be prepared, and situationally aware in all types of emergencies. By being CERT-ified, you will also contribute to the resiliency of our community. When emergencies happen, CERT members may be able to provide support to first responders by providing on scene assistance to victims during a crisis situation. CERT members also add to community resiliency with support of outreach projects, such as local corporate safety fairs and expos, and coordination at disaster simulations. When disaster strikes, be it a wildfire, severe weather, earthquakes, power outages, terrorism, floods or something else – you can help make a real difference by being personally prepared and trained to help. During a large scale incident, our public safety officials are going to be stretched thin. Having trained community members who know how to take care of themselves, their families, neighbors and co-workers is a valuable asset that will provide a chain of survival. The winter CERT session begins Thursday, Jan. 17, and runs through Thursday, Feb. 28. The materials fee is $30 and includes a backpack of emergency supplies. Classes are held on seven consecutive Thursday evenings at the Centre, located at 20880 Centre Pointe Parkway. You must be at least 18 years of age to register. Registration is open, with several spots available. If you cannot make this session, the next spring session will begin on March 14, for another seven-week series. If you are interested in registering for the CERT program, please visit santa-clarita.com/emergency. To stay informed and receive local emergency alerts, sign up at santa-clarita.com/ealerts or text SCEmergency to 888777.