CERT Brochure [PDF, 252Kb]
Thinking about getting prepared for the next big disaster, but not sure how or where to start? Maybe you're already ready, but want to know how you can help others? Perhaps you've got the spirit of volunteerism and want to be available to help with disasters that aren't in your area?
The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program may be right for you. CERT is a nationwide training program begun by the City of Los Angeles Fire Department in 1985 to capitalize on the value of citizen volunteers in a first-response capacity. The Whittier Narrows earthquake of 1987 underscored the threat of an area-wide disaster, and the need for ordinary citizens to be self-sufficient in the initial days following a major incident was highlighted. Since then, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has expanded the program to cover a variety of natural and man-made disasters and spread it nationwide, creating a vast network of trained citizens that are able to deal with and respond to almost any type of disastrous event. Since the curriculum was made available nationally by FEMA in 1993, communities in 28 states and Puerto Rico have conducted CERT training.
The approximately 20-hour class is offered here in the Antelope Valley free of charge throughout the year, and is conducted by the Los Angeles County Fire Department (LACFD) in partnership with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department (LASD). In order to accomodate everyone's schedules, classes may be offered as three consecutive Fridays or Saturdays (eight hours each), or over seven consecutive weeks in the evenings (three hours each), one night per week.
During the course of the training, you will learn:
• Disaster preparedness
• Hazard identification and mitigation
• Disaster fire suppression
• Basic first aid
• Triage and incident assessment
• Light search-and-rescue operations
• Disaster psychology
• Team organization
• Incident management and control
At the end of the course, participants undergo an immersive disaster simulation to help them put all their newly-learned skills into practice. Students who successfully complete the entire course are given an official certificate of completion, and are then allowed to sign up for a CERT Call-Out Team if they choose. Call-Out Teams, such as Antelope Valley CERT, are comprised of volunteers who wish to help out communities when disaster strikes, and assist citizens in need until first-responders (Fire, Sheriff's, EMS) can get in to where they're needed.
Refresher courses are offered periodically as well, covering the topics above as well as others that are of interest for disaster response, such as sandbagging, traffic control, utility management, disaster communications, and disaster-specific simulations. Advanced disaster training is available through the American Red Cross of Greater Los Angeles (link will open in a new window).
Whether you're just seeking information and skills to help you and your family out during a disaster, or you want to help anyone in need and "do the greatest good for the greatest number," CERT training will help you to realize these goals. Remember, completion of the CERT training program does not obligate you to sign up for a Call-Out Team.
For class schedules, please visit the LACFD's CERT Schedule page (link will open in a new window). You may also contact the CERT program offices at (888) CERT-939 (237-8939).
For more information about the CERT program, please visit the following websites (links will open in a new window):
Citizen Corps: Community Emergency Response Teams
Los Angeles CERT
Los Angeles County Fire Department, CERT
Antelope Valley CERT