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About CERT

Course Summary and Materials

The CERT training is usually delivered over three consecutive days. The training time commitment is a total of 20 hours and consists of the following.

Course materials are provided on the first day of the course, but can also be found below for free.

See below for a summary of each unit.

UNIT 1 - DISASTER PREPAREDNESS: Addresses hazards to which people are vulnerable in their community. Materials cover actions that participants and their families take before, during, and after a disaster. Topics include:

  • Roles and Responsibilities for Community Preparedness: How everyone in a community has a role in disaster preparedness.
  • Role of CERTs: CERT organization, disaster and non-disaster roles, and laws that protect disaster workers from liability.
  • Elements of Disasters and Their Impact on Infrastructure: The potential effects of extreme emergencies and disasters on electrical service; emergency services; telephone communication; transportation; and availability of food, water, shelter, and fuel.
  • Personal and Organizational Preparedness: How you can prepare in advance to improve the quality of your survival and to reduce the damage from hazards.

UNIT 2 - CERT ORGANIZATION: Explains how CERT is organized into a manageable structure. Introduces the Incident Command System (ICS). Topics include:

  • CERT Organization: How to organize and deploy CERT resources according to CERT organizational principles.
  • CERT Size-up: How to conduct the continual data-gathering and evaluation process at the scene of a disaster or emergency.
  • Rescuer Safety: How to protect your own safety and your buddy’s during search and rescue.
  • Documentation: Strategies for documenting situation and resource status.

UNIT 3 - DISASTER MEDICAL OPERATIONS PART I: Participants practice diagnosing and treating airway obstruction, bleeding, and shock by using simple triage and rapid treatment techniques. Main topic:

  • Assisting Disaster Medical Operations: How to assist by controlling bleeding, maintaining normal body temperature, opening an airway, providing comfort to patients, and applying basic first aid care for a number of injuries. 

UNIT 4 - DISASTER MEDICAL OPERATIONS, PART II: Covers evaluating patients by doing a head to toe assessment, establishing a medical treatment area, performing basic first aid, and practicing in a safe and sanitary manner. Topics include:

  • Mass Casualty Incidents: How to assist first responders in responding to mass casualty incidents.
  • Functions of Disaster Medical Operations: Major functions of disaster medical operations.
  • Disaster Medical Treatment Areas: Types of medical treatment areas.
  • Head-to-Toe Assessment: How to perform a head-to-toe assessment to identify and treat injuries.
  • Public Health Considerations: How to maintain hygiene and sanitation.

UNIT 5 - DISASTER PSYCHOLOGY: Covers signs and symptoms that might be experienced by the disaster victim and worker. Discusses techniques to manage stress during disaster response. Topics include:

  • Disaster Psychology: The psychological impact a disaster has on rescuers and survivors, and lessons on providing components of “psychological first aid.”
  • Caring for Yourself and Survivors: Steps volunteers can take individually and as part of a CERT before, following, and after a disaster.

UNIT 6 - FIRE SAFETY & UTILITY CONTROLS: Briefly covers fire chemistry, hazardous materials, fire hazards, and fire suppression strategies; the safe use of fire extinguishers, sizing up the situation, controlling utilities, and extinguishing a small fire. Topics include: 

  • Fire Chemistry: How fire occurs, classes of fire, and choosing the correct means to extinguish each type of fire.
  • Fire Size-up Considerations: How to evaluate fires, assess firefighting resources and determine a course of action.
  • Portable Fire Extinguishers: How to identify types of portable fire extinguishers and how to operate them.
  • Fire Suppression Safety: How to decide if you should attempt to extinguish a fire; how to approach and extinguish a fire safely.
  • Hazardous Materials: How to identify potentially dangerous materials in storage, in transit, and in your home.
  • Fire and Utility Hazards: How to identify potential fire and utility hazards in the home and workplace; how to implement successful fire prevention strategies.

UNIT 7 - LIGHT SEARCH AND RESCUE OPERATIONS: Participants learn about search and rescue planning, size-up, search techniques, rescue techniques, and most important, rescuer safety. Topics include:

  • Search and Rescue Size-up: How to size up the situation in which the search and rescue teams will operate.
  • Conducting Interior and Exterior Search Operations: How to search systematically for disaster survivors.
  • Conducting Rescue Operations: Safe techniques for lifting, leveraging, cribbing, and survivor removal.

UNIT 8 -  CERT & TERRORISM: Participants learn signs of a possible terrorist attack and are given basic instruction on how to avoid becoming a victim. Topics include:

  • Terrorism: Defining terrorism, including the goals and tactics of some terrorist groups, and detailing how to respond when an active shooter is in your vicinity.
  • Eight Signs of Terrorism: The eight signs of terrorism and how to report suspicious activity.
  • Preparing for Your Neighborhood: Steps to take to be prepared at home, work, and in your neighborhood.
  • Hazmat and CBRNE: Identifying some basic guidelines during a Hazmat or CBRNE event.

UNIT 9 -  COURSE REVIEW AND DISASTER SIMULATION: Participants review and practice the skills that they have learned during the previous six modules. Topics include:

  • A Review of Key Points from the Course
  • A Final Exam
  • A Final Exercise