About Us

Our Story

The CERT concept was first developed and implemented by the Los Angeles City Fire Department (LAFD) in 1985 after devastating earthquakes in Japan, Mexico, and California. The goal was to develop multi-functional volunteer response teams with the ability to perform basic fire suppression, light search and rescue and first aid that would improve the ability of citizens to survive until responders or other assistance could arrive. Several major earthquakes and fires in California have confirmed the need for training civilians to meet immediate emergency needs.

In 1994 the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) felt that the concept and the program should be made available to communities nationwide. FEMA in cooperation with the LAFD expanded CERT training to be applicable to a wide range of natural hazards.

Following the events of September 11, 2001, CERT was selected as one of the primary programs of President George W. Bush’s new Citizen Corps. As of January 2004, 50 states, three territories, and six foreign countries are using CERT training programs, and in 2005 the CERT program became part of the Department of Homeland Security. It is anticipated that the CERT program will continue to evolve into a fully integrated Fire Department volunteer force.

Our Mission

MISSION STATEMENT OF THE SACRAMENTO FIRE DEPARTMENT
COMMUNITY EMERGENCY RESPONSE TEAM (CERT):

Sacramento CERT Volunteers under the sponsorship of the Sacramento Fire Department shall provide support to public safety and service personnel as an additional resource in emergency and non-emergency situations by working within the network of local and state Emergency Response Teams. In addition CERT will provide the City of Sacramento community with CERT disaster emergency preparedness training.

Our Values

The Core Values of the Sacramento Fire Department Community Emergency Response Team:

Honor: We are trustworthy, have strong character, and adhere to the highest principles.

Respect: We hold the community we serve, each other, and our profession with highest regards in a non-judgmental, courteous, and compassionate manner.

Courage: We face difficulty and uncertainty without being diverted from the correct course of action. We do the right thing, at the right time, for the right reason.

Integrity: We uphold the public trust by committing ourselves to the utmost professional and ethical behavior.

Devotion to Duty: We are dedicated to carrying out our mission as accountable stewards of the resources entrusted to us, with prompt response and a readiness to serve.

Program Overview

The Sacramento Fire Department CERT program has the responsibility of supporting public safety and service personnel as an additional resource in emergency and non-emergency situations, and providing disaster training to the citizens of the Sacramento region.  The organization chart represents the current structure of the department.

The team operates one 3/4 ton utility truck, four search and rescue equipment trailers, and one animal response trailer from 6 fire stations located in the City of Sacramento. Sacramento CERT is comprised of two Battalions (North and South of the American River) and maintains a command staff following the Incident Command System for both operational and day-to-day activities.

Program volunteers provide approximately 6,800 hours of service each year and provide service to approximately 530,000 residents located in the Sacramento region.

In addition, the program maintains the capability of deploying via mutual aid request anywhere in California for up to two weeks to serve on disaster scenes. In support of the Sacramento Fire Department, the program regularly provides overhead personnel for Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) Task Force Seven (Task Force 7) operations (mobilization and demobilization).

Meet the Team

Sacramento CERT follows the Incident Command System for deployments and daily operations.

Operations Division

Command Staff

robert_ross_2015-08-22_1410Robert Ross
Chief, Operations/Instructor

Member since 2008.

After serving in the US Army’s 82nd Airborne Division, I worked as a partner in a residential construction company in South Carolina.  I moved to Arizona where I worked in a health insurance company who eventually moved me to California in 1999.  I graduated from the basic CERT academy in February 2008 and went on to serve as Rapid Deployment Team member, Battalion Captain, Assistant Chief of Operations, and now Chief of Operations. I am also a FEMA certified CERT/Teen CERT instructor and American Safety and Health Institute Instructor.  In my spare time I work for the State of California as the Emergency Operations Analyst for the Department of Toxic Substances Control.


rick_pixley_2015-08-22_1410Rick Pixley
Assistant Chief, Operations (B Shift)

Member since 2013.

Pretty much raised in San Jose Ca. After high school, I owned a TV repair shop for 10 years.  In 1978, I closed the shop and went to work for Pacific Bell, as a Communication Technician in their Special Services Department still in San Jose.  I transferred to Sacramento in 1980 to their Microwave Surveillance and Switching department, and moved to Special Services Maintenance, a couple of years later I was promoted to their management team.  During this time, I was part of a team that over an 18-month period designed and oversaw the building and implementation of Pacific Bells regional Network Operations Centers (NOCs) for California.  From there I moved to the IT department where I managed a team of manager that over saw the Network Monitoring and Analyst (NMA).  By this Pacific Bell  had become a combined company of Pacific Bell, Southwest Bell, Ameritech, Southern Bell, and AT&T(almost all of the old MA BELL) I finished my career in the Vendor Management and then the Finance departments.  During my career at the telephone company, I also was part of their Emergency Operations Center (EOC) for approximately 27 years, holding various positions under the ICS structure.  I retired in 2012 after 33 years with the telephone company.  I joined CERT in the fall of 2013.  After basic training, I continued with the additional training offered by CERT eventually becoming a level 1, Emergency Medical Responder.  I also volunteer for an ICS position ending up as Assistant Operations Chief.


steven_mata_2015-08-22_1410Steven Mata
Assistant Chief, Operations (C Shift)

Member since 2014.

I joined CERT in 2014 with the mind set that I wanted to learn about community emergency preparedness; however, I became more involved in the program and within the same year I became an Emergency Medical Responder and in 2015, was deployed with CERT to a major disaster area, the Valley Fire. The training and experience I have received has prepared me for these types of deployments. Also, when the need arises, I use the medical training provided to me to assist me with my full time job as a security manager for a state agency.

I enjoy giving back to the community, not just in emergency situations, but through community outreach events.  After being deployed to the Valley Fire, it taught me that one second can change everything. Providing outreach to the community is the most important and rewarding part of being a CERT member, because you help prepare someone now before it’s too late; but, for those not so fortunate, and when called upon, WE go in as TEAM to help the communities in need and knowing CERT volunteers do make a difference. Whether it’s passing out a bottle of water, treating a wound, or just listening to someone vent because they have lost everything and then they tell you, “thank you for helping us!”

Frances Shaghafi
Battalion Captain

Member since 2016.

I have always been drawn to volunteerism; but, had never heard of CERTs.  While volunteering for a local police department CERTs was mentioned many times and I began looking into ways to get involved. Being a retired senior with children, grandchildren and great grandchildren I know the importance of being involved and have a passion for helping others whether through learning a subject or teaching. In my pre-retirement life, I owned many business most of them from the ground up and have learned the “art” of getting people to pull together for the greater good.  Studying the many programs around showed me that the Sacramento CERT was far more active than most and that is what I thrive in doing.  There are so many opportunities available to serve in CERTs and learn useful knowledge in aiding not only oneself, but family, friends, neighbors and the local community that I truly feel honored to be a part of this organization.


Medical Officer
Vacant

 

 

 

 

 


kathleen_winkelman_2014-06-07_2143Kathleen Winkelman
Animal Officer

Member since 2011.

After moving from Germany to Sacramento and graduating from Elk Grove High School, I worked for United Way Sacramento Area for 27 years. After retiring, I was on the Board of the Tahoe Park Neighborhood Association for 15 years and became a volunteer for Noah’s Wish in 2006.  After deploying to 6 disasters I became a trainer to teach communities across the United States on sheltering animals during disasters.  I joined Sacramento CERT in 2008; moved to Level II in 2013; became Animal Response a Team Leader 2014; trainer 2015; Animal Operations Officer 2016.


betty_omotunde_2014-06-07_2143Betty Omotunde
Staging Officer

Member since 2012.

I joined Sacramento CERT in the Fall of 2012 mostly with curiosity, but very open to connecting with another volunteer opportunity – I’m generally engaged in some sort of volunteerism … a decade of zoo docenting … several years as a Child Life volunteer at Sutter Memorial Hospital, of recent note. And, yes, I did find a connection with Sacramento CERT – serving as 1) an instructor and 2) staging officer. I’m also currently volunteering at the Front Street Animal Shelter in Sacramento.

To sustain our family, I work full-time as a digital printer for the State of California-OSP. My second job is on-call as a Nursing Education Department Secretary at Sutter Medical Center Sacramento. I’ve learned enough computer and organizational skills over the years to get by and have found ways to contribute at Sacramento CERT.

As Staging Officer, I work closely with the Operations Chief and am charged with the responsibility of organizing and maintaining teams of disaster workers to fit changing requirements as the situation unfolds. We’re always looking for ways to improve the process, and we have gained good insight by participating in exercises with the Sacramento Fire Department, National Guard, Coast Guard and other CERT groups in California and beyond. Great leadership at Sacramento CERT provides ongoing opportunity to maintain the skills. It takes concentration and teamwork to get it done – staging is a very challenging opportunity.


joseph-heapJoseph Heap
Weather Officer

Member since 2009.

I’m originally from the San Francisco bay area. In 2003 I moved to the Sacramento area. During my a visit to my grandmother, she suggested I volunteer with a organization I would be interested in. I started with American Red Cross and American Heart Association.  In 2009 I started volunteering with the Sacramento regional CERT teams, eventually setting in with Sacramento CERT.

 


Planning Division

Robb Parkison
Chief, Planning

Member since 2013.

I joined CERT in the fall of 2013 as a way to give back to the community and decided this was my calling. CERT has taught me skills on how to cope with any emergency’s that may arise.  The classes offered, from Basic Level III to the Level I EMR, have given me an opportunity for personal growth that I never could have imagined. I became an EMR in 2015 and have enjoyed every minute of it.  Being deployed to the Valley Fire was incredibly humbling and educational. Being part of CERT is always educational. I also am on the Task Force 7 USAR response team.  Working with these professional rescuers, assisting them to get on the road and getting them processed in order to get them home faster is very rewarding. I absolutely love our CERT team.  Professionally I am in the contracts management unit for the State of California Department of General Services.


Fundraising Officer
Vacant

 

 

 

 


GIS Officer
Vacant

 

 

 

 


Logistics Division

gerald_walrath_2014-06-07_2143Gerald Walrath
Logistics Chief

Member since 2012.

A Sacramento native, I’ve done the usual military stint and Sac City courses here. I’ve spent time working retail for about 25 years until discovering the printing trade with the Office of State Publishing. My wife works the digital section of printing and found out about CERT while printing one version of our books. We came aboard in the fall of 2011. I noticed at that time that Robert did everything, and was able to take the job of Logistics Officer about 2013. Since then I’ve had the pleasure to deploy to the Valley Fire, been the object of interest in the examination of the dogs for Canine Urban Search and Rescue and other fun escapades.


david_klein_2015-08-22_1410David Klein
Logistics Officer

Member since 2013.

I served in the Army as a Military Police Office and I obtained a secondary skill set in logistics and vehicle maintenance.  I further served in the California Army National Guard for 12 years.  I graduated from Basic and Advanced search and rescue operations with the Alameda County Sheriffs Department.  I graduated from the Reserve academy with the Sheriffs Department.  During this time I also graduated from Basic and Advanced fire academy.  I have worked for Hayward Police Department as a Reserve Police Officer and for Union City Police as a paid Reserve officer.  I was employed as a equipment maintenance manager before moving to Sacramento.  After coming to Sacramento I was in local and long distance truck driving.  I have been with CERT since 2013.  I am an EMR and am now working in the logistics division with Gerald Walrath.


richard_petersen_2015-08-22_1410Richard Petersen
Logistics Officer

Member since 2014.

I currently serve as back-up Team Leader for our Animal response team. Prior to joining CERT I served four years in the US Army from July 1979 to October 1983. Four days after being honorably discharged I began my 31 year career as a brick mason including the last five as a masonry contractor. Upon retiring in March 2014 I joined Patriot Guard Riders where I serve as a “Ride Captain” doing welcome homes and send offs for our Active Duty, National Guard, and Reserve Military members.  In September 2014 I joined Sacramento CERT, completing Level III, II, and I training. Being able to help the community is a great honor.


scott_greene_2014-06-07_2143Scott Greene
Communications Officer

Member since 2012.

I’ve been working in software development for an environmental testing laboratory for the last thirty years.  Being stuck in an office and on a phone for much of that time developed a need to seek outdoor activities to balance out my life.  I started with hiking, camping, four wheel driving, the lot, then got in to endurance races for a while.  Along the way I got caught up in a few volunteer programs; first I started volunteering with the forest service doing trail construction and maintenance, then got in to coaching and fundraising for the Leukemia and Lymphoma society. Doing these, I found I had a real appetite for the volunteer programs, which led me into the SFD CERT team.  Currently I manage the radio equipment, provide some training, and generally help out in the logistics and operations area where I can.  It’s been a great deal of fun!

Administration/Finance Division

Administration/Finance Chief

Vacant

Organization Chart

Organization Chart

Training Cadre

Training Cadre

richard_beymer_2014-06-07_2143Richard Beymer
Instructor

Member since 2010.

Retired US Army Lieutenant Colonel with 24 years of service: Infantry basic and advanced training, operations and testing plus observing / controlling / training of Army Reserve and National Guard units situational training exercises (Lane Training).
Volunteer for Blue Star Moms, Sacramento Tree Foundation and Loaves & Fishes.
Current job with AT&T managing fiber optic transport facilities in the Sacramento, Stockton and Nevada regions.

gary_gotow_2014-06-07_2143Gary Gotow
Instructor

Member since 2010.

My background as a Boy Scout and a volunteer leader in Boy Scouts has led me to becoming a CERT member.

I took an early retirement to take care for my ailing father and upon his passing I found myself with a lot of free time on my hands. While researching material for a Health and Safety presentation, I came across the Citizen Corp CERT web site. Learning that CERT was a local community based program on preparedness and community service, I thought I give Sacramento CERT a try and signed up for the basic training class and ended up joining CERT in 2010. Since then, I have gone to the Emergency Management Institute in Maryland to become a CERT instructor, got my ham radio license and became an Emergency Medical Responder.

I am also a volunteer with the Red Cross Disaster Services. I became a Disaster Service Instructor so I could teach the Red Cross classes for CERT. I am also a team member with the Disaster Action Team (DAT).

As I mentioned my background is in Boy Scouts.  I have been in the Boy Scout program over 45 years and have spent the past 25 years as an instructor/trainer on local, Council, Regional and National levels.  I currently serve as the Chairman for the Enterprise Risk Management Committee for my Boy Scout Council, Boy Scout Wilderness First Aid instructor and as a Camp Inspector for Western Region Area 3.

CERT has been a good fit for me with my Scouting background.  It follows the Boy Scout philosophy of the Boy Scout Motto “Be Prepared” and the Scout Slogan that stresses Community Service.


scott_greene_2014-06-07_2143Scott Greene
Instructor

Member since 2012.

I’ve been working in software development for an environmental testing laboratory for the last thirty years.  Being stuck in an office and on a phone for much of that time developed a need to seek outdoor activities to balance out my life.  I started with hiking, camping, four wheel driving, the lot, then got in to endurance races for a while.  Along the way I got caught up in a few volunteer programs; first I started volunteering with the forest service doing trail construction and maintenance, then got in to coaching and fundraising for the Leukemia and Lymphoma society. Doing these, I found I had a real appetite for the volunteer programs, which led me into the SFD CERT team.  Currently I manage the radio equipment, provide some training, and generally help out in the logistics and operations area where I can.  It’s been a great deal of fun!


tara_lopez_2Tara Lopez
Instructor

Member since 2015.

In 2014 a friend introduced to me the CERT program. She knew I was looking to be more prepared and be able to successfully take care of my family in an emergency. CERT basic seemed like a great start. When I attended the class I was amazed at the information and training I received, and I was hooked! I quickly expanded my training by taking every class that was offered through Sacramento CERT and jumped at the volunteer opportunities. A year later I became certified to teach the CERT Basic course through FEMA. Learning, volunteering, and instructing in CERT has given me so many rewarding experiences I would have never expected. I am excited to continue this journey and be a part of yours with Sacramento CERT.


betty_omotunde_2014-06-07_2143Betty Omotunde
Instructor

Member since 2012.

I joined Sacramento CERT in the Fall of 2012 mostly with curiosity, but very open to connecting with another volunteer opportunity – I’m generally engaged in some sort of volunteerism … a decade of zoo docenting … several years as a Child Life volunteer at Sutter Memorial Hospital, of recent note. And, yes, I did find a connection with Sacramento CERT – serving as 1) an instructor and 2) staging officer. I’m also currently volunteering at the Front Street Animal Shelter in Sacramento.

To sustain our family, I work full-time as a digital printer for the State of California-OSP. My second job is on-call as a Nursing Education Department Secretary at Sutter Medical Center Sacramento. Through that opportunity I’ve maintained my American Heart Association instructor certification for HeartSaver and Basic Life Support for the Healthcare Provider. I’ve taught HeartSaver 1st Aid and BLS-HCP extensively for 14+ years.

At Sacramento CERT, I generally teach CERT Basic (probably my favorite of all), Animal Response I/II, CPR Pro and Emergency Medical Responder. The best part about teaching at Sacramento CERT is that we have some really amazing instructors with wide ranging backgrounds.  And, with the team teaching we do, everybody benefits!


robert_ross_2015-08-22_1410Robert Ross
Instructor

Member since 2008.

When I joined CERT in 2008, I wanted to bring my military experience to the CERT program. Many of the tasks and processes common in the US military are applicable to CERT operations.  I became a CERT/Teen CERT instructor in 2010 and began training the Light Search & Rescue and Fire Suppression/Utility Controls modules of the Basic CERT academy.  I am also an American Health and Safety Institute instructor and I train multiple modules of our Emergency Medical Responder course.  I also teach other advanced classes such as Wildland Fire/Urban Interface, HAZMAT First Responder Awareness, Crowd and Traffic Management, Compass/Map Reading/Land Navigation, and others.


Frances Shaghafi
Instructor

Member since 2016.

I have always been drawn to volunteerism; but, had never heard of CERTs.  While volunteering for a local police department CERTs was mentioned many times and I began looking into ways to get involved. Being a retired senior with children, grandchildren and great grandchildren I know the importance of being involved and have a passion for helping others whether through learning a subject or teaching. In my pre-retirement life, I owned many business most of them from the ground up and have learned the “art” of getting people to pull together for the greater good.  Studying the many programs around showed me that the Sacramento CERT was far more active than most and that is what I thrive in doing.  There are so many opportunities available to serve in CERTs and learn useful knowledge in aiding not only oneself, but family, friends, neighbors and the local community that I truly feel honored to be a part of this organization.


carlos_vazquez_2014-06-07_2143Carlos Vazquez
Instructor

Member since 2007.

I joined Sacramento CERT in late 2007, as I was looking to give back to my community by volunteering some of my free time.  I quickly realized that the Sacramento CERT program provides an invaluable support to the emergency preparedness of not just the City of Sacramento but also our entire region.  I became a CERT instructor as there was a need to train more members of our community on how to properly prepare and respond to disasters. I strongly believe that the better prepared we all are as a community, the better we will all recover when a major disaster happens.  I am also a American Health and Safety Institute instructor and teach several of the modules for our Emergency First Responder course.


Kathy Winkelman
Instructor

Member since 2011.

After spending 27 years working for a nonprofit, I retired and joined my neighborhood association and worked with them for 15 years.  One day I heard about Noah’s Wish, an organization that sheltered animals during disasters and was a volunteer for them for 10 years, deployed to 8 (6 fire 2 floods) disasters with animal shelters.  One day I met Robb Ross, and after hearing my background with disasters told me I should join CERT…and I did.  Since joining in 2008, I have been deployed to at least 2 weather related events.  I am the Animal Officer, teach a special Animal Sheltering; and look forward to teaching other classes..  Teaching is a way to know that in some small way, you have helped a person have more knowledge than they did before…and knowledge is power…and the more power you have in a disaster, the less scary it may seem..

CERT in Action

Click here to see more of Sacramento CERT in action…

Next Steps…

Would you like to learn how to protect yourself, your family, and your neighbors during an emergency? If so, sign up today!