Overview of the Community Emergency Response Team Program- CERT

Overview of the Community Emergency Response Team Program

Being properly trained and having the skills needed to protect you, your family and fellow community members provides a valuable service to the entire community. The Federal Emergency Management Institute (FEMA) has an excellent training program to help you learn what to do and how to be prepared.

The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Program is a part of FEMA’s goal to educate and train the public on how to respond to natural disasters or other events that may endanger the public.

The course is composed of a series of slides with images and descriptive text explaining the key parts of the program lesson. In the middle and at the end of the lesson, there is a “Knowledge Review” section with questions that will test one’s comprehension of the lesson information. You must complete all the questions correctly before you will be able to move on.

The CERT program is broken down into six (6) different modules with each module containing one to four lessons. Below is the layout of the course modules and lessons to complete the class. I have provided a link to the CERT online training modules on FEMA’s website at the bottom of this article.

NOTE: It is important to note that at completion of this online training course, you are not considered a “Trained CERT Volunteer” until you have also completed the CERT Basic Training Classroom Course. The training guide is just to help prepare you for the course and help you become more familiar with the necessary skills to become qualified as a CERT.

CERT Module 1: CERT Basics (1 hour and 25 minutes to complete)

    • Lesson 1-0: Course Overview – 20 minutes to complete
      This lesson simply reviews the program’s course and explains what you will learn from the program. After completing this lesson, you will be able to:
      1- Identify key concepts that form the foundation for CERT operations.
      2- Identify the principles and guidelines for CERT activities.
    • Lesson 1-1: CERT Overview – 25 minutes to complete
      This lesson provides an overview on the many ways CERT’s can serve their community by contributing to emergency preparedness and response. After completing this lesson, you should be able to:
      1- Identify ways in which CERTS contribute to disaster preparedness and response.
    • Lesson 1-2: Family and Workplace Preparedness – 35 minutes to complete
      This lesson teaches you strategies you can use in your home or at your place of work. After completing this lesson, you should be able to:
      1- Identify hazards mitigation strategies.
      2- Identify the steps for developing a family disaster plan.
      3- Identifying the necessary items to include in disaster supply kits.
    • Lesson 1-3: CERT Organization – 35 minutes to complete
      This lesson explains how CERT’s are organized and how they fit into the overall response process. After completing this lesson, you should be able to:
      1-Understand the role of the Incident Command System (ICS) in the CERT organization.
      2- Be able to explain how the CERT decision-making relates to rescuer safety.

CERT Module 2: Fire Safety (1 hour and 30 minutes to complete)

    • Lesson 2-1: Introduction to Fire Safety– 35 minutes to complete
      Fires are among the many hazards encountered when disaster strikes. Cities and towns across America and around the world have dedicated professional fire fighters that focus on saving lives and putting out major fires whether in homes, businesses, or in forests.

      As a CERT member, you can be certified in helping individuals evacuate an area or directly assist fire fighters.
      After completing this lesson, you should be able to:
      1- Recognize and correct fire hazards.
      2- Shut off utilities to prevent fires.
      3- Putt out small fires.
      4- Identify fire safety practices that CERTs must follow.

    • Lesson 2-2: Fire Hazards in the Home and Workplace– 30 minutes to complete
      Being able to identify common fire hazards that may exist in your own home or workplace and being able to act to minimize those problems is an important part of the overall process. After completing this lesson, you should be able to do the following:
      1- Identify potential fire hazards in your home and place of work.
      2- Identify how to mitigate fire hazards that are in your home and place of work.
    • Lesson 2-3: Safe Fire Suppression – 25 minutes to complete
      Being able to extinguish a fire before it becomes large and out of control is an essential skill in the combating of a fire.
      After completing this lesson, you should be able to:
      1- Identify safe practices for  extinguishing a fire.
      2- Know the steps of the “PASS” procedure and how to operate a fire extinguisher.

CERT Module 3: Hazardous Materials and Terrorist Incidents (1 hour and 5 minutes to complete)

    • Lesson 3-1: Introduction to Special Situations– 15 minutes to complete
      In this lesson you will learn the different types of situations that may involve hazardous material and the procedures that CERT’s follow in such situations. After completing this lesson, you should be able to do the following:
      1- How to identify situations that involve hazardous materials or terrorism.
      2- Know the practices that CERT’s must follow for hazardous material and terrorist incidents.
    • Lesson 3-2: Hazardous Materials Safety– 20 minutes to complete
      In this lesson, you’ll learn about common hazardous material and their properties and potential dangers. You’ll learn how to properly store hazardous materials in your home. After completing this lesson, you should be able to:
      1- Identify if hazardous material are present.
      2- Learn what CERT members should do in situations that involve hazardous materials.
    • Lesson 3-3: Terrorism and CERT– 30 minutes to complete
      In this lesson, you’ll learn of the many different forms of terrorism and what you can do to protect yourself. After completing this lesson, you should be able to:
      1- Define terrorism and weapons of mass destruction.
      2- Prepare for and respond to a terrorist attack.

CERT Module 4: Disaster Medical Operations (1 hour and 5 minutes to complete)

    • Lesson 4-1: Introduction to Disaster Medical Operations– 15 minutes to complete
      In this short lesson, you’ll learn how to act as a first responder until professional help is available.

      Note: you should NOT apply the medical treatment skills in this training section until you have completed the classroom training.

      After completing this lesson, you should be able to:
      1- Define the role of CERT’s in disaster medical situations.
      2- Identify safety precautions for medical operations workers.

    • Lesson 4-2: Principles and Guidelines for Survivor Care– 90 minutes to complete
      This is the longest lesson in this module. You’ll learn key principles and best practices for medical care of disaster survivors. After completing this lesson, you should be able to:
      1- Identify signs of obstructed airway, excessive bleeding and shock.
      2- How to open an airway, control bleeding and manage shock.
      3- Define triage and its purpose in disaster medical operations.
      4- Explain why it is important to follow the head-to-toe patient assessment process.
      5- Identify common injuries and how to treat them as a certified CERT member.
      6- Identify factors that are to be considered when establishing medical treatment areas.
      7- Identify public health measures required at a disaster site.

    • Lesson 4-3: Disaster Psychology– 40 minutes to complete
      In this lesson, you’ll learn what you can do to help others deal with the psychological stress that is common after disaster strikes. After completing this lesson, you should be able to:
      1- Describe why dealing with disaster-related stress is important.
      2- Identify how you can help relieve your own stress, individually and as a team.
      3- Identify ways to help survivors with disaster trauma.

CERT Module 5: Search and Rescue Operations (1 hour and 15 minutes to complete)

    • Lesson 5-1: Introduction to Light Search and Rescue– 30 minutes to complete
      In this lesson, you’ll learn key principles of light search and rescue. After completing this lesson, you should be able to:
      1- Describe proper CERT practices for light search and rescue.
      2- Properly “Size up” a situation, gather information, and apply decision making in the process of attempting a rescue operation.
    • Lesson 5-2: Search Operations– 15 minutes to complete
      In this lesson you will learn how to safely conduct search operations that CERT members use. After completing this lesson, you should be able to:
      1- Identify effective methods for conducting search operations.
      2-Identify effective methods for interior searches.

    • Lesson 5-3: Rescue Operations– 30 minutes to complete
      In this lesson, you will learn the key procedures for conducting rescue operations safely. After completing this lesson, you should be able to:
      1- Identify safe techniques for debris removal and survivor extraction.

CERT Module 6: Course Summary Operations (20 minutes to complete)

    • Lesson 6-1: Finishing Up – 20  minutes to complete
      In this 6th and final module you will review the previous 5 modules: CERT Basics, Fire Safety, Hazardous Materials and Terrorist Incidents, Disaster Medical Operations, and Search and Rescue.

      Upon completion you will be able to print your certificate for the course as well as learn how to take the “classroom-based CERT Basic Training” course that is required for you to become a trained and qualified CERT member.

Conclusion

I would highly recommend interested individuals enroll in FEMA’s Community Emergency Response Team Program training, whether you decide to continue on to the classroom training or not. Having this knowledge and skill set could mean the difference between life and death for you, your loved ones, and possibly community members.

If you would like to take the online training course, click HERE to get started.