The Benton County Emergency Response Team is accepting applications to build its volunteer roster. (Photo by Benton County)

The Benton County Emergency Response Team program is accepting applications in its efforts “to build a culture of individual preparedness.”

Volunteers train and serve together as part of BCERT, a program that receives support from the Benton County Sheriff’s Office Emergency Management/Preparedness Division. Organizers said participants will “learn what to do before, during and after an emergency to assist themselves, their family, friends and neighborhoods.”

During the pandemic, BCERT members and leaders volunteered their time distributing personal protective equipment (masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, etc.) to hundreds of families. The team assisted in the organization of COVID-19 vaccine sites that served thousands of individuals.

In addition, volunteers with BCERT filled staffing needs for human and animal evacuation shelters during the 2020 fires.

“During real-time incidents like the pandemic and wildfire evacuation, the contribution of trained volunteers to assist is of immeasurable value,” Benton County said through a press release. “It demonstrates the strength of our community in times of need.”

The Federal Emergency Management Agency adopted CERT as a national program in 1993. Benton County CERT said its goals are to address local hazards and provide education, training and empowerment for individuals in emergency preparedness. The program stated that its long-term effort is to continue to develop and maintain a network of CERT teams throughout the community.

BCERT welcomes all abilities and provides a safe, positive and inclusive experience, officials said, adding that the program is for those 18 and over. The FEMA CERT program is free of charge.

To learn more about volunteering with Benton County CERT and the Benton County Emergency Management/Preparedness Division go online to or contact BCERT at or 541-766-6864.