In October 2011, Dillard University’s Class of 2015 became the largest group ever to complete Louisiana’s Community Emergency Response Training (CERT), a 20-hour, hands-on course that teaches individuals to prepare for disasters and form effective neighborhood teams to assist others. Citizen Corps, a national service program coordinated by the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency, administered the training.
Dillard students began their training on Wednesday evening, Oct. 19, and finished it the following day. The university hosted a sleepover with movies and games for commuter students participating in the course.
The CERT program educates citizens about disaster preparedness and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations. The course focuses on wildfires, hurricanes, tornados, earthquakes, floods and other emergencies. By becoming CERT members, over 300 of Dillard’s first-year students can now provide immediate services in their communities during a disaster until professionals can arrive on the scene.
Dillard’s Center for the First-Year Experience (CFYE) partnered with the Louisiana Campus Compact, a statewide coalition of higher education institutions committed to civic engagement, to facilitate the CERT course. The CFYE hopes this year’s project will serve as a model to other colleges and universities of how service learning can provide lifelong skills that make a tangible impact on the community.
Dillard students are required to complete 120 hours of community service before graduation. This spring the university was inducted into the 2010 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for engaging its students, faculty and staff in service that achieves measurable results.