PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The Providence Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) is looking for volunteers to become members of the city’s Community Emergency Response Team, known as CERT.

The agency will hold free training sessions next month to teach everyday people how to respond in the event of a disaster or emergency.

Alexa Griffin, a preparedness coordinator at PEMA, says trainees can learn how to use a fire extinguisher, basic first aid, light search and rescue, and more.

“If we’re unable to get to communities in a timely manner, they’re the ones in their neighborhood who are prepared and they can help their neighbors,” she said.

This week, 12 News got a look inside the Emergency Operations Center at PEMA, where personnel strategize during emergencies or disasters. PEMA Director Clara Decerbo says the agency will send out CodeRED emergency alerts to Providence residents, but only if they have opted in.

“If there is an incident where we need to evacuate an area, we can provide notification to that specific area,” Decerbo said.

Decerbo also says enrolling in the R.I. Special Needs Emergency Registry (RISNER) is something some Rhode Islanders may want to consider.

The registry helps first responders better help residents who use life support systems like oxygen, have mobility needs, are visually impaired, are hard of hearing, have speech or developmental disabilities, or use assistive animals or a prosthesis.

“If we need to do an evacuation for a hazardous material spill, or for flooding, something like that, we would be able to look in this registry and identify individuals who live in the evacuation zone who might need additional help,” Decerbo added.

With the rise in extreme weather events, especially amid hurricane season, PEMA Deputy Director David Radcliffe is also encouraging preparing an emergency kit and taking a walkthrough of your property.

“A lot of times we don’t look with a fine tooth comb, so there might be gutters loose, there might be blocked storm drains there,” Radcliffe said. “If you can take some precautions ahead of a storm to fix that it will reduce subsequent damage.”

Alexandra Leslie ( is a Target 12 investigative reporter covering Providence and more for 12 News. Connect with her on Twitter and on Facebook.