Starting a CERT Program

Step 6: Establishing a Training Cadre

Selecting Instructors

a CERT Training classroom

Instructors are your representatives to the participants. Click the following links to learn more:

Importance of Selecting Qualified Instructors

Students regularly rate the quality of instruction as more important to meeting their overall learning goals than any other factor. Students pay attention to the instructors more than to print materials or media.

The quality of the instructors you select will have more to do with the initial success or failure of your program than anything else. So, you will need to select your instructor cadre carefully and train them so that they are able to present the course in a way that relates to the students.

Most agencies that sponsor CERTs use internal resources to teach at the start of the program. However, a challenge faced by many CERT Program Coordinators is whether to enlist those who are interested (such as CERT graduates) to augment or replace subject-matter experts (such as professional firefighters or EMTs) as instructors. There are advantages and challenges associated with each. These advantages and challenges are shown in the table below.

Regardless of the decision you make about the types of instructors to recruit and train, all should:

Factors To Consider

Review the following lists of advantages and challenges to help you make decisions about the types of instructors to select.

First Responders as CERT Trainers
Advantages Challenges
  • Have first-response experience
  • May have training experience
  • Makes quality control easier
  • Are reliable
  • Work set schedules
  • Have credibility
  • Develop a relationship between the participants and the department
  • May be uncertain about CERTs
  • May not have training experience
  • Cost more than CERT volunteers
  • Tell "war" stories
  • May go into too much detail for training objective

CERT Graduates as Trainers
Advantages Challenges
  • Are familiar with CERT operations
  • May have training experience
  • Must fit CERT around work responsibilities
  • Cost less than professional responders
  • May not have the level of expertise that first-responders do
  • May cause issues with professional responders who feel that CERT graduates are taking their jobs
  • Cannot answer what-if questions