Campus program offers emergency response training for students


Courtesy of Campus Community Emergency Response Team

Members of C-CERT work alongside UPD, ResLife and Campus Operations to help run fire drills throughout campus.

When faced with an emergency, no one wants to be caught surprised. One volunteer organization at St. Edward’s University is working to teach students and staff how to prepare for a disaster.

The Campus Community Emergency Response Team, or C-CERT, is part of FEMA’s national Community Emergency Response Team program and provides emergency preparedness training for its members. Basic Community Emergency Response Team training consists of nine units, including, “team organization, disaster medical operations, fire safety and light search and rescue.” The organization was established on campus in 2007.

Last February, Winter Storm Uri swept across Texas and left many students both on and off-campus without water or electricity for days in freezing temperatures. According to Dan McCoy, the executive chairman of C-CERT, members of the program are not only better equipped to handle an emergency, but are also able to help members of the community.

“A lot of my C-CERT members were out in their communities helping other people,” McCoy said. McCoy himself used his training to cook hot meals for his elderly neighbors who were left without power.

According to McCoy, C-CERT usually receives an increase in students interested after a natural disaster like Winter Storm Uri. This semester, the university has worked to increase the Hilltop community’s awareness of what resources are available on campus. 

Campus Safety sent out a series of emails to students at the beginning of the semester about the different programs and services C-CERT offers. These emails also included information about the Topper Safe app and SafeWalk SEU.

“Members of the program also volunteer on campus by assisting with fire drills and conducting monthly inspections of Automated External Defibrillators across campus,” Billy Atkins, director of Campus Safety, said. 

Students can attend the organization’s monthly meetings, which are held on the third Wednesday of every month. On Feb. 16, the group will hold a special teaching presentation called “How to Safely Start a Fire” at the Operations Building at 10 a.m. 

Another special teaching presentation will be held on water collection and purification on March 16 at 10 a.m via Zoom.

Students interested in getting involved with the program can email C-CERT at [email protected].

Additional information about disaster preparedness can be found on the City of Austin’s website on the Public Safety page.