CERT Resources

Special Topics

Words of Advice: Tips for Handling Special Issues

Click on a topic to review tips from experienced CERT Coordinators:

map of California

Patricia Yuen - San Francisco, California

Involving Children in CERT

Children are a wonderful resource to the program in many ways. They bring with them so much enthusiasm. They are a reason for their parents to be more active with the NERT (CERT) Program as we all wait for the "Big One".

Click this link to access the Connection article titled "NERT Training for Kids!."

map of California

Laura Baggett - Fremont, California

Removing Obstacles

When you have no obstacles placed in front of you, you soon learn the only obstacles are the ones you create. We did not look at the deaf community, educationally challenged, or our wheelchair bound members as special needs groups. They are citizens of Fremont that need training in disaster preparedness. They are among the best we have. We do not segregate them. They train and drill with the rest of the community. All of our members work well together meet any challenges that arise. We are the true meaning of "TEAM."

Click this link to access the Connection article titled "Fremont Fire Department CERT Program and the Hearing Impaired."

map of Washington

Chandra Fox - Edmonds, Washington

Working With Volunteers With Special Needs

We use disabled volunteers on a regular basis and encourage all to participate regardless of any disabilities. The foremost benefit is that the entire curriculum is very empowering for disabled volunteers. When a disabled person comes in expecting to be pushed aside, we treat him or her with the respect of any of our volunteers. We expect the disabled volunteers to participate and that really makes them feel valued that they do have something to contribute. We stress that even with disabilities all volunteers have strengths and skills that are useful to the effort. We really emphasize that no matter what limitations they have, in a disaster situation there is always going to be something they can do to help. Sometimes they may not have the physical capability to perform tasks, but they may have the required knowledge and background.

map of California

Jim Piper - Aptos, California

Establishing Communication Systems

The importance of communications between team members during CERT activation and operations cannot be overstated. During either an alert or a mobilization, team members need to rapidly get in touch and stay in touch with each other.

Considerations for team communications should consider the following:

Click the below links to access Connection articles on CERT Communications:

map of California

Frank Lucier - San Francisco, California

Using the Incident Command System

The Incident Command System (ICS) has proven effective in managing to and responding to emergencies since 1975. CERTs should be using it too. ICS puts the tasks that need to be done to manage and/or respond to a disaster into 5 separate boxes or functions (management, operations, logistics, planning/intelligence, administration). By separating disaster tasks into these functions, we have a span of control (1 leader for every 3 to 5 team members) so that CERTs will not be overwhelmed with what they have to do. The problem is breaking down, what can be a very complex system, into something that is easy for the CERTs to use.

Click this link to access the Connection article titled "Transitioning to ICS Positions."

map of California

Ronald Nelson- Los Atlos, California

Forming School Response Teams

The Los Altos High School community realizes that we may have to rely on our own resources in the event of a disaster or emergency at school. This is very apparent when one looks back at recent natural disasters in our State such as: the Whittier Narrows Earthquake of 1987; the Loma Prieta Earthquake of 1989; and the Northridge Earthquake of 1994. When viewing videos of these disasters, citizens are performing much of the rescue work, as there are not enough emergency service workers to meet the needs. Consequently, Los Altos High School is beginning to form a response team at school, which we call the School & Community Emergency Response Team (SCERT).

Click this link to access the Connection article titled "First on the Scene with SCERT."

map of Washington

Michelle Hale - Kent, Washington

Partnering With School Personnel

Kent, Washington is vulnerable to a variety of natural and technological hazards. School facilities, personnel and students are not exempt to the effects of these hazards. The Kent School District, Kent Fire & Life Safety and the Emergency Management Office have formed a partnership to train school personnel to prepare for and respond to these hazards.

Click this link to access the Connection article titled "S.E.R.T. School Emergency Response Training."

map of Florida

Jacqueline Perry - Seminole County, Florida

Giving Teenagers an Eye-Opening Experience

The students in Winter Springs High School's Environmental Class have successfully completed the CERT training. These adventurous students and teachers were the first graduates of our special Pilot CERT Program provided within the Environmental Vocational Program receiving high school credit for learning how to help themselves and fellow students in their own environment.

After learning proper techniques, the students were amazed with their abilities and newly found skills. They were able to perform tasks they did not believe they could. The teenagers had an eye opening experience as they crawled through a dark closet and science laboratory searching for their fallen peers. They experienced first hand gratification as they rescued their injured classmates and brought them to safety.

Click this link to access the Connection article titled "Seminole County C.E.R.T. Training at Winter Springs High School."

map of Florida

Harry Small - Boca Raton, Florida

Working With High School Students

We regularly use high school seniors. Schools are now starting to implement a mandatory 125 hour community service project for graduating seniors. We provide this training and students get credit for community service hours. Students are also involved in drills. Ages 13-17 are encouraged to take the training, but are required to do so with a parent or guardian. Using students also generates support with parents and extends participation with others because of the student contacts.

map of California

Frank Lucier - San Francisco, California

Limiting Liability

For the training, I think it is really not an issue but there are a few simple rules. First is hazard mitigation at the training site. Instructors should get there early and remove or fix any potential hazard that could injure the participants. Can't tell you how many extension cords we have taped down.

Second is span of control. Sometimes our classes get a little big. It would not be unusual to have classes of 60 or more people once or twice a year. One train-the-trainer we did had over 100 people. For the lecture portion it really doesn't matter how many people you have. But for the small group and especially the practical/skills and disaster simulation section (where you have the potential for injury) you have to maintain the span of control of about 1 instructor or safety person for every 7 or less participants. We trained over 8,000 people while I was with the Department and we never had a single injury in a training, drill or exercise.

The other part of liability is when CERTs are operating in a real disaster. We have to remember that we are really teaching them life skills with the exception of maybe search patterns and building damage. The rest of the skills they can use day-to-day in their normal lives. As long as they operate within the scope of the training, liability should not be an issue.

Click this link to access the Connection article titled "Training, Drills & Liability."