FW-SAR-CERT helps how?

First our experience. Most of the crew is composed of either active, or retired military, cops, firefighters, paramedics, EMT’s, nurses, emergency management retirees, their families and friends. Volunteers that want to dedicate their time and effort assisting other people. And secondly, our vehicles. Off-road vehicles to be precise, expertly customized and modified to travel through the most difficult terrain on this planet capable of reaching and transporting victims, support personnel and life saving gear.

What is CERT?

The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) is a federally approved program that trains ordinary citizens to be prepared for emergency situations in their communities and neighborhoods.  CERT members give critical support to first responders during emergencies, provide immediate assistance to victims, collect disaster information to support first responder efforts and provide that first help needed during the immediate hours following a major emergency.  It’s families helping themselves and neighbors helping neighbors to prepare, respond and recover in their own neighborhoods.


Hurricane Andrew, Hugo, Floyd, and Charlie. Tornadoes, large wildfires, hazardous materials incidents and acts of terrorism have clearly shown that during those first crucial hours Emergency First Responders are unable to help all areas at once. CERT training gives you decision making and physical skills to offer immediate assistance to family members, neighbors and business associates in an efficient manner without placing yourself in unnecessary danger.

How and Where is CERT?

CERT teams are in your neighborhoods, job sites, business offices, practically anywhere there’s the need for a CERT team whose actions can make a difference. Following a FEMA mandated 24 hour basic training course and on-going efforts a CERT team can manage utilities, put out small fires, provide life saving measures, perform basic urban search and rescue operations.  Assist in damage assessment, evacuations, traffic guidance, Point of Distribution sites, rapid sheltering, administrative support, and organizing positions are also available.  CERT is active in over 30 Florida counties with well over 5,000 neighborhood trained personnel. It is a local program formed by local government agencies composed of volunteers like you.

Who pays for all this?

We are a 501(c)(3) Charitable organization depending on donations from folks like you and contributions from private companies. WE DO NOT RECEIVE FUNDING from any agency, we have to pay for all training materials, safety equipment, and medical supplies we utilize at every deployment.

So, we work for donations and are very grateful to those companies that have supported our efforts in the past, please visit our “Sponsors” page and be a customer.  Please visit our Donation page for more information on how you can help us help them!.

Meet the Leadership Team

Joseph E. Ruiz, CHIEF/Founder
Hillsborough Co. Commander
Victor Reyes, Osceola Co. Commander
Barry Schultz, CSM
Joseph D. Mecca, SECGEN
Richard Denton, PILOT
Keith Pecha, HC Operations
Jose Perello, OC LT CDR
Marcos Haddock, OC Operations