CERT Background Information
CERTs are formed by members of a neighborhood or workplace who want to
be better prepared for the hazards that threaten their communities.
Beyond Disaster Response
Initially, CERT programs were developed to assist communities in taking
care of themselves in the aftermath of a major disaster when first responders
are overwhelmed or unable to respond because of communication or transportation
difficulties. As the CERT concept has taken hold across the country, however,
CERTs have become much more than originally envisioned. CERTs have proven
themselves to be an active and vital part of their communities' preparedness
and response capability. For example, CERTs have been used to:
- Distribute and/or install smoke alarms and batteries to the elderly
- Assist with evacuations and traffic control.
- CERTs are an investment of local government's time and resources.
To capitalize on this investment, program sponsors can view CERT members
as a volunteer resource that can assist with public safety activities.
Such an approach will actively involve members in serving their communities
beyond disaster response and add value to the CERT program.
CERT Standards and Protocols
The best source of help in an emergency or disaster is the paid or volunteer
professional responder. But, if they are not available to address immediate
life-saving needs or to protect property, CERT members can help. CERTs
are not intended to replace a community's response capability, but rather,
to serve as an important supplement to it.
The agency sponsoring the CERT program is creating a volunteer resource
that is part of the community's operational capability following a disaster.
That agency should develop training standards for CERT personnel and protocols
for their activation and use.
CERT members must keep their safety in mind as their first priority. CERT
volunteers must know their capabilities and the limitations of their training
and equipment and work within those limitations.
CERTs do NOT:
- Suppress large fires.
- Enter structures that they consider heavily damaged and dangerous
(e.g., leaning or moved from foundation).
- Perform hazardous materials cleanup or respond to incidents involving
radiological, chemical, or biological agents.
- Perform medical, fire, or search and rescue operations beyond their
level of training.
Activate or deploy unless called for in their procedures.
CERTs are considered "Good Samaritans" and covered under the
Volunteer Protection Act. CERT volunteers do not have any authority beyond
serving as "Good Samaritan" when helping others.
When deployed appropriately, however, CERTs can complement and enhance
first-response capability in neighborhoods and workplaces by ensuring
the safety of themselves and their families working outward to the neighborhood
or office and beyond until first responders arrive. CERTs can then assist
first-response personnel as directed.
For more information please visit... Community
Emergency Response Team (CERT)