In September 1985, an earthquake measuring 8.1 on the Richter scale occurred in Mexico City. It killed more than 10,000 people and injured more than 30,000. Mexico City had no training program for citizens prior to the disaster. However, large groups of volunteers organized themselves and performed light search and rescue operations. Volunteers are credited with more than 800 successful rescues; unfortunately, more than 100 of these untrained volunteers died during the rescue operation and many more were seriously injured.
The City of Los Angeles deployed rescue teams to assist in Mexico City. It became apparent that a plan to train volunteers to help themselves and others was needed as an essential part of overall preparedness, survival and recovery.
The City of Los Angeles was the first to put such a training program together in 1985-86. In 1993, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) expanded the program to include all hazards and made it available to communities nationwide. As of 2011, 50 states, three territories and many foreign countries are using the CERT training model.
The James City County CERT program began in 2003. Since its inception, JCC CERT has trained 449 residents.
James City County has neighborhood teams active in Stonehouse, Colonial Heritage, Riverview Plantation, Ford’s Colony, Kingsmill, Patriot’s Colony, St. George’s Hundred, Governor’s Land, and Williamsburg Community Chapel.