Policy Discussion:CERT members and weaponsWhen CERT is deployed with a mission to respond to an impacted area they are doing so as non-combatants. A non-combatant is defined "as one that does not engage in combat: such as
a : a member (such as a chaplain) of the armed forces whose duties do not include fighting
b : civilian."(Merriam Webster Dictionary)
Every piece of equipment that a CERT team brings when responding should be:
- A tool that is intended to serve the CERT mission of Fire suppression, disaster medical or search and rescue.
- Supplies to support the team in dispensing their duties
- Personal supplies to sustain the CERT member in service with their unit.
- Something you are trained and certified to use in the service of CERT.
If you are carrying something which does not sustain you, cannot be used in a normal way to serve CERT's mission and is conspicuous and considered to be a device which causes harm with no other legitimate purpose then that damages your credibility as an emergency responder. Moreover you have placed yourself and your team in jeopardy.
In CERT training we learn that when CERT is entering an impacted area they should first evaluate if it is safe. If it is not safe we should not enter the area. If there is a question of responder safety then requesting a police chaperone to provide security would be a good idea. If during a deployment the situation changes and it is no longer safe then your team needs to re-evaluate their situation and if necessary leave.
You need to understand when you deploy as a non-combatant that you are walking into an abnormal situation and danger is always present. If you cant handle the possibility of danger then you probably should request a non-field role.
An example of how to deal with this potential danger as a non-combatant would be when the Salvation Army deploys teams to dispense supplies into an impacted area. If the area's safety is in question the Salvation Army requests a local police escort. Local police have a sworn duty to serve and protect and carry with them the mandate of that community to ensure that the peace is kept fairly.