Editor's note: This is the final article in a series on earthquake preparation. Read the rest of the articles here.

It’s been nearly two weeks since the Great Utah ShakeOut. After seeing around 945,000 people participate in the drill, emergency managers are ecstatic about how Utah has begun making plans to improve.

Utah Disaster Kleenup and the Deseret News are bringing you this final column on emergency preparedness and emergency response to encourage Utahns to make preparedness steps.

Let’s imagine for a moment that it’s just two days after an earthquake.

We know that a magnitude 7.0 earthquake, which could strike the Wasatch Front, could be devastating, chaos reigns, and aftershocks hamper rescue efforts. Damage to roads would make it impossible for first responders to help those in need. And that’s assuming an ability to call them, which probably won’t exist.

Who does that leave? Neighbors. Neighbors helping neighbors.

How well are your neighbors prepared to help you? And how well prepared are you to help your neighbors?

With the right kind of training, neighbors can be well equipped to take on emergency roles as members of a Community Emergency Response Team. A CERT is a group of residents in a city or neighborhood who are organized and understand disasters, what to expect when they happen and know how to respond. The Whittier Narrows earthquake in California in 1987 highlighted the need to have trained residents who could help out with emergency response.

In Utah, we have 70 CERT programs where residents are getting trained in the following areas:

  • Disaster preparedness
  • Disaster fire suppression
  • Disaster medical operations
  • Light search and rescue
  • Disaster psychology
It’s comforting training to have. Not only do CERT members have knowledge about how to respond, but they also have the confidence to do the right thing in a disaster.

You can find a CERT program near you by visiting the state CERT website or by calling your local emergency manager. Training classes consist of a total of 24 hours of instruction with the ability to take refresher courses if needed. Join a class. It may just save a life.

On behalf of Be Ready Utah, Deseret News, Emergency Essentials and Utah Disaster Kleenup, I want to thank you for your attention over the past 17 weeks. Since January, we have come together as a state and are better prepared now than we were at the start of 2012.

Happy preparing!

Joe Dougherty is a preparedness expert and the spokesman for the Utah Division of Emergency Management and Be Ready Utah. Send your preparedness tips to [email protected]. Daily preparedness tips available at twitter.com/bereadyutah.