What is a CERT?

CERTs help to educate residents about disaster preparedness for hazards that may impact your community, and train them in basic disaster response skills. CERTs are composed of resident volunteers who actively participate in classroom exercises to learn critical emergency response skills and commit to helping serve their community following a disaster activity when professional responders are not immediately available

Properly trained CERT members can serve as extensions of professional emergency teams, giving critical support to first responders, providing immediate assistance to victims, organizing spontaneous volunteers at a disaster site, and helping with non-emergency projects that help improve the safety of the community.

CERT History

The CERT concept was initially developed and implemented by the Los Angeles City Fire Department (LAFD) in 1985 after the Whittier Narrows earthquake of 1987. This devastating event demonstrated the need for training civilians to serve an active role in the immediate response to community disasters and to do so in a safe and informed manner. Recognizing the importance of preparing residents for unexpected emergencies, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Emergency Management Institute (EMI), and the National Fire Academy adopted and expanded the CERT training program. Since 1993 when CERT training was made available nationally by FEMA, communities in 28 states and Puerto Rico have conducted CERT training.

CERT Training

A trained team of professional first responders who have completed a CERT Train-the-Trainer course conducted by their state training office for emergency management, or by FEMA’s Emergency Management Institute (EMI), should instruct all future CERT trainers. At the individual participant level, communities should encourage all residents to take the CERT course to become better educated on how to respond immediately after a disaster to protect themselves, their families, their neighbors, and their community.