University of Southern California

First Graduating Class of USC-CEPP

Date: May 1, 2014

CREATE is proud to announce that the inaugural class of a new safety and emergency preparedness program, called the USC Community Emergency Preparedness Project (USC-CEPP) has graduated. Among the graduates are CREATE and university staff, as well as many USC neighbors and citizens who have taken initiative to protect our community. This includes a stand-out 91 year old, Ethel, seen below.

CERT Ethel photo.JPG

In the photo, back row (left to right): Bill Regensburger, Director USC Fire Safety & Emergency Planning, Steve Goldfarb, Senior Emergency Manager, USC, and Alicia Welch, Battalion Chief, Los Angeles Fire Department Prevention Bureau

Front row: Ethel Watson, USC Community Member, long-time activist in public service, retired postal worker, 91 years young, and Erroll Southers
Associate Director, USC - CREATE

The mission of this project is to develop and implement a USC community safety and emergency program, with the objective that the neighborhood adjacent to campus achieves a high level of safety and preparedness similar to the university.

The project aims to promote and enhance the preparedness, safety, security, and well-being of the South Los Angeles community near USC. This is a collaborative effort between community stakeholders, elected representatives, emergency responders, USC Fire Safety & Emergency Planning Office, USC Civic Engagement, CREATE, the LA Fire Department, LA Emergency Management Department, USC Department of Public Safety, LAPD, First-In Fire Foundation, community non-profits, Kid Watch, local schools, faith based organizations and more.

A hybrid training program combining key parts of Community Emergency Response Training (CERT), Citizen Corps neighborhood team planning, and home/family preparedness training has been customized to meet the needs of the community.

"This effort represents an opportunity for a national model that might be replicated and sustainable in similar environments across the country. The community-university partnership already thrives on many levels and preparedness should be part of the relationship," said Erroll Southers, associate director for research transition at CREATE.

While USC already has a nationally recognized CERT program on campus with over 300 volunteers and is well prepared for disasters, this new enhanced program is unique as it builds upon and strengthens existing relationships with public safety agencies, faith-based organizations, non-profits and community partners to help prepare not only the USC campus but also the surrounding neighborhood.

The USC-CEPP program has recruited USC students, faculty, staff and community leaders who reside in the neighborhood to help expand emergency preparedness in a bilingual format. The free classes will be held March 7 through April 25.

After this initial pilot, USC plans to offer an array of emergency planning classes, ranging from a full 20-hour FEMA certified CERT class to the three-hour Disaster Awareness Course given by the LAFD. USC plans to work closely with LAFD and LA Emergency Management Department with the overarching goal of community preparedness and resilience in an emergency situation.

"We have long wanted to help train emergency teams among our neighbors, and now we hope to be able to achieve that goal through our partnership with USC Civic Engagement, CREATE, and the community. We are really excited about working with the many enthusiastic volunteers in our community," said William Regensburger, director of USC Fire Safety & Emergency Planning.