Nearly 40 new instructors graduated from a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training Sunday, the first of its kind offered to Spanish speakers.
The weekend-long Spanish-language “Train-the-Trainer” class at Goleta City Hall was the first ever in California, and quite possibly in the nation, according to organizers.
Locals made up most of the Spanish-speaking participants, but folks came from as far as Sunnyvale and Riverside County to complete the emergency response training — allowing those already certified to teach a CERT class to others.
While Santa Barbara County has hosted Spanish-language CERT classes in the past, instructors have never been taught in that language because the curriculum wasn’t yet translated, said Luz Reyes-Martin, a Goleta city management analyst.
Reyes-Martin also works with Goleta Prepare Now CERT, which helped organize and fund the 23-hour event that began Friday evening and ended with a graduation ceremony.
She was excited about the number of participants interested in the inaugural class — some were put on a waiting list — since a typical English trainer class draws 20.
“We’ve gotten just a tremendous response from the Spanish community,” Reyes-Martin told Noozhawk. “We’re so proud to get to host it.”
Having a Spanish option helps guarantee CERT program sustainability, she said, and will add to the current number of county Spanish-speaking CERT instructors, which is five.
The Goleta class also garnered attention from the state. Suu-Va Tai, a disaster program specialist working with the Office of the Governor’s California Volunteers, sat in on the weekend class.
Tai said although CERT training has been going on a decade, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) previously didn’t have the funds to translate curriculum used to train instructors.
“We do hope to continue to support this,” he said, noting the program’s ability to create leaders in communities.
Another Spanish-language “Train-the-Trainer” class is expected to be offered in Northern California before the end of the year, Tai said.