Why Cert Was Developed

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, using the model created by the Los Angeles City Fire Department, began promoting nationwide use of the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) concept in 1994. Since then, CERTs have been established in hundreds of communities.

CERT training promotes a partnering effort between emergency services and the people that they serve. The goal is for emergency personnel to train members of neighbor-hoods, community organizations, or workplaces in basic response skills. CERT members are then integrated into the emergency response capability for their area.

If a disastrous event overwhelms or delays the community’s professional response, CERT members can assist others by applying the basic response and organizational skills that they learned during training. These skills can help save and sustain lives following a disaster until help arrives. CERT skills also apply to daily emergencies.

CERT members maintain and refine their skills by participating in exercises and activities. They can attend supplemental training opportunities offered by the sponsoring agency and others that further their skills base. Finally, CERT members can volunteer for projects that improve community emergency preparedness.


  • Describe the types of hazards most likely to affect their homes and communities.
  • Describe the function of CERT and their roles in immediate response.
  • Take steps to prepare themselves for a disaster.
  • Identify and reduce potential fire hazards in their homes and workplaces.
  • Work as a team to apply basic fire suppression strategies, resources, and safety measures to extinguish a burning liquid.
  • Apply techniques for opening airways, controlling bleeding, and treating shock.
  • Conduct triage under simulated conditions.
  • Perform head-to-toe assessments.
  • Select and set up a treatment area.
  • Employ basic treatments for various wounds.
  • Identify planning and size-up requirements for potential search and rescue situations.
  • Describe the most common techniques for searching a structure.
  • Use safe techniques for debris removal and victim extrication.
  • Describe ways to protect rescuers during search and rescue.



The Community Emergency Response Team course consists of 20 hours of classroom instruction provided by trained responders and exercises practicing the skills learned plus a 2 to 3-hour exercise/simulation after the conclusion of the course.   CERT classes are free of charge.

CERT training covers the following topics:

  • Disaster Preparedness
  • Disaster Fire Suppression
  • Disaster Medical Operations
  • Light Search and Rescue
  • Disaster Psychology
  • Special Needs Considerations in Rescue Situations
  • Team Organization
  • Terrorism

There is a minimum age for participation in a CERT program.  You must be 18 to attend on your own or you can attend with a parent if you are at least 16.   Teen CERT is being developed in several high schools as an option to get teenagers involved in disaster preparedness.



Here are a few examples of recent CERT involvement in community activities:

  • CERT Helps in Branson, Missouri Flash Floods
  • CERT Supports Olympic Trails in Eugene, Oregon
  • During a recent power outage in Miami, Florida, the University of Miami ‘Canes Emergency Response Team was activated to assist with traffic management at congested intersections where traffic signals were out.
  • Brooktails (California) CERT was activated to assist with a wildfire started by a lightning strike.

Check out the following link for more information and pictures:




Did you know that with debris-clogged or damaged roads, disrupted communications and the high volume of calls to emergency response personnel, you could be on your own for the first 72 hours after a disaster.



If you would like additional information on CERT, check out this website:


This website also contains information on locations of CERT teams and allows you to search for teams based on entering a ZIP code.

This brochure was purchased with

US Department of Homeland Security Funds


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