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

Member since 2008.

Robert Ross
Chief, Operations (A Shift)

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 Emergency Medical Responder Instructor.  In my spare time I work for the State of California as the Statewide Emergency Operations Analyst for the Department of Toxic Substances Control.

Recruiting
Chief, Operations (B Shift)

Member since 2014.

Steven Mata
Chief, Operations (C Shift)

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!”

Member since 2011.

Kathy Winkelman
Animal Officer

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.

Planning Division

Member since 2017.

Lisa Walda
Chief, Planning (A Shift)

As a Health and Safety Officer for a large State agency, risk assessment and hazard identification is part of my daily routine. I am an American Safety and Health Institute First Aid/CPR/AED instructor and have trained and certified hundreds of First Aiders over the years.

It was my desire to utilize these skills while serving my community that attracted me to the CERT program. Quickly moving through the various levels of training prepared me well for our deployment to the Camp Fire in 2018, where I served as the animal shelter intake manager. Working as a member of this team was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.

I have since become an Emergency Medical Responder Instructor, regularly attend advanced training to diversify my skill set, and enjoy guiding new CERT students as a team proctor during graduation disaster drills where we reinforce doing the greatest good for the greatest number of people.

Member since 2013.

Robb Parkison
Chief, Planning (B Shift)

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.

Logistics Division

Member since 2019.

Nancie Farris
Logistics Chief (A Shift) / Battalion Captain (South)

I was born and raised in Central Oregon, and joined the U.S. Navy after high school, at age 17. After four years as an Aviation Structural Mechanic and Plane Captain (taxiing jets on runways), I moved to San Francisco in the mid-1980s and worked as an EMT for about five years. A serious back injury ended my time in that field, and I then went to work with Viacom Cable as a technician, climbing poles and driving bucket trucks. I lived in San Francisco for nearly 30 years. I have always had a calling to help people. After the 1989 earthquake, I assisted many in our SF neighborhood, in the initial phase and after.

My partner and I moved to the Sacramento area in 2016 from Santa Cruz. We both volunteered after the Camp Fire at the Large Animal Shelter in December of 2018. In early 2019 I joined CERT, starting at Metro Fire CERT and then moving to Sacramento Fire CERT.

I’ve taken a wide variety of CERT courses including Low-Angle Rope training, Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) for deployment readiness, Animal Rescue, Animal Sheltering, as well as the Train the Trainer series to become a CERT instructor. I received my Amateur Radio Ham license, Technician class, in February 2020 (call sign KN6HKU). I have also been trained by my predecessor Gerald Walrath to become a member of the Logistics team.

I have been deployed with CERT to the COVID-19 drive-through testing facility for Sacramento County, assisting with traffic management for as many as 380 cars a day, volunteering full-time for more than two months.

I look forward to meeting and working with you all. Sacramento Fire Department CERT is a fantastic organization, with a very dedicated, fun, and professional group.

Member since 2012.

Scott Greene
Logistics Chief (B Shift) / Communications Officer

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

Recruiting
Chief, Finance/Admin

Training Cadre

Training Cadre

Member since 2010.

Rick Beymer
Instructor

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.

Member since 2019.

Nancie Farris
Instructor

Member since 2019.

My partner and I moved to the Sacramento area in 2016 from Santa Cruz. We both volunteered after the Camp Fire at the Large Animal Shelter in December of 2018. In early 2019 I joined CERT, starting at Metro Fire CERT and then moving to Sacramento Fire CERT.I’ve taken a wide variety of CERT courses including Low-Angle Rope training, Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) for deployment readiness, Animal Rescue, Animal Sheltering, as well as the Train the Trainer series to become a CERT instructor. I received my Amateur Radio Ham license, Technician class, in February 2020 (call sign KN6HKU). I have also been trained by my predecessor Gerald Walrath to become a member of the Logistics team.

Member since 2012.

Scott Greene
Instructor

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!

Member since 2015.

Tara Lopez
Instructor

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.

Member since 2008.

Robert Ross
Instructor

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.

Member since 2018.

Sandy Smith
Instructor

I am a proud native of Sacramento, and have a background in Communications and as a Medical Assistant. I have volunteered with several organizations and non profits, and it was while volunteering on medical staff for a Tough Mudder event that I first heard of Sac CERT. Another volunteer was a member, and she talked about the team’s involvement in disaster preparedness training and the work done in response to prior state emergencies. I was enthralled, but working two jobs and taking pre-nursing classes prevented me from enrolling at that time. Two years later, I finally signed up, and the wait was worth it: the skills obtained and the lessons learned were priceless. It is my goal to take the same enthusiasm and knowledge that I have gained from CERT and share it with others.

Member since 2007.

Carlos Vazquez
Instructor

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.

Member since 2017.

Lisa Walda
Instructor

As a Health and Safety Officer for a large State agency, risk assessment and hazard identification is part of my daily routine. I am an American Safety and Health Institute First Aid/CPR/AED instructor and have trained and certified hundreds of First Aiders over the years.

It was my desire to utilize these skills while serving my community that attracted me to the CERT program. Quickly moving through the various levels of training prepared me well for our deployment to the Camp Fire in 2018, where I served as the animal shelter intake manager. Working as a member of this team was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.

I have since become an Emergency Medical Responder Instructor, regularly attend advanced training to diversify my skill set, and enjoy guiding new CERT students as a team proctor during graduation disaster drills where we reinforce doing the greatest good for the greatest number of people.

Member since 2011.

Kathy Winkelman
Instructor

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 Rob 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 and multiple wildfires.  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!