Community Emergency Response Team (CERT)

Calvert County CERT Logo

What is CERT?

The CERT concept dates back to 1985, when the Los Angeles Fire Department recognized that in the early stages of a disaster - earthquakes in particular - local emergency responders would be overwhelmed, and basic training in disaster survival and rescue skills would improve the ability of community members to survive until responders or other assistance arrived.

Recognizing the universal value of this program, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) worked in conjunction with the LAFD to make the CERT program applicable to all types of hazards and developed a CERT training program which could be used nationwide and adapted to meet local conditions when the need arose.

The tragic events of September 11 remind us that disaster can strike anywhere or anytime, and that basic safety and disaster survival skills can mean the difference between life and death. CERT training empowers community members to prepare responsibly and respond appropriately when emergencies occur.

CERT training promotes a partnering effort between emergency services and the people they serve.

CERT members give critical support to first responders in emergencies, provide immediate assistance to victims, organize spontaneous volunteers at a disaster site, and collect disaster intelligence to support first responder efforts.


The goal is for emergency personnel to train members of neighborhoods, 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

These skills can help save and sustain lives following a disaster until help arrives. CERT skills also apply to daily emergencies.

Target Audience

  • Amateur Radio Emergency Services
  • Businesses
  • Clubs / Organizations
  • Communities of Faith
  • Neighborhoods
  • School Staff / Students
  • Scouting Organizations
  • Individuals

CERT Basic Training Objectives

When you join a CERT, you will receive basic-level training in the following areas:

  • Emergency Preparedness
  • Disaster Medical Operations
  • Fire Suppression
  • Light Search and Rescue Operations
  • CERT Operations/Incident Command System
  • Disaster Psychology
  • Terrorism Awareness
  • Disaster Simulation -- Skills Review  

A closer look at what you will learn

CERT Victim CarryCERT 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. CERT training will teach participants to:

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

Total training is usually about 20 hours, scheduled in 2-4 hour modules, over a period of weeks or months, in order to address the scheduling needs of team members. It's held in the community or county where you live.
  Training courses, student materials and equipment are provided free of charge.

Download the Calvert County CERT Brochure

For more information; contact the Division of Emergency Management's CERT Program Manager at 410-535-1600 x2302.