CERT Basic

Course Purpose

The purpose of the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Basic Training is to provide the individuals who complete this course with the basic skills that they will need to respond to their community’s immediate needs in the aftermath of a disaster, when emergency services are not immediately available. By working together, CERT members can assist in saving lives and protecting property using the basic techniques in this course. The target audience for this course is individuals who desire the skills and knowledge required to prepare for and respond to a disaster.

CERT Basic Training Requirements in California

California organizations which utilize Homeland Security Grant Program (HSGP) funding in part or whole for their CERT Program must abide by the following federal and California State guidance.
Any CERT Basic training conducted by State or local organizations must:
  • Include the topics covered in the FEMA CERT Basic Training Course
  • Utilize the training materials provided on the national CERT website at https://www.citizencorps.gov/cert/training_mat.shtm
  • Be instructor-led. The course manager for a CERT Basic course must have a certificate of completion from a State or FEMA approved CERT Train-the-Trainer course.
  • Be classroom-based, using lecture, demonstration, and hands-on practice throughout. Note that the Independent Study course―Introduction to CERT (IS 317)--must not be substituted for classroom delivery of CERT Basic Training.
  • Have a minimum of two instructors present at all times and an instructor-to-student ratio of 1:15 or better.

The following is a list of the CERT Basic modules. All modules must be taught in-person in a classroom-based setting. The recommended teaching time for each unit is listed below, totaling 20 hours (not including the additional video for Unit 7).
  • Unit 1 - Disaster Preparedness (2hr 30mins)
  • Unit 2 - Fire Safety and Utility Controls (2hr 30mins)
  • Unit 3 - Disaster Medical Operations part 1 (2hr 30mins)
  • Unit 4 - Disaster Medical Operations part 2 (3hrs)
  • Unit 5 - Light Search and Rescue Operations (2hr 30mins)
  • Unit 6 - CERT Organization (1hr 45mins)
  • Unit 7 - Disaster Psychology (45mins and up to 30 additional mins of video)
  • Unit 8 - Terrorism and CERT (1hr 30mins)
  • Unit 9 - Course Review and Disaster Simulation (2hr 30mins)

The following elements are required to be taught as a hands-on exercise throughout the course:
  • Fire suppression
  • Cribbing
  • Medical Triage
  • Search and Rescue
*Note - Programs that do not meet the requirements listed above will not be listed on the national CERT website and are not eligible for training materials and equipment support from CaliforniaVolunteers.

Lead Instructor Qualifications

The Lead Instructor is the course manager for the CERT Basic course. Lead Instructors must have attended a State or FEMA approved CERT Train-the-Trainer course. Lead instructors should be knowledgeable about:
  • The CERT model
  • The types of hazards (natural, technological, and manmade) that present the greatest risk to the community
  • Local building structures that present the greatest hazard in the event of a disaster
  • The community’s emergency operations plan
The Lead Instructor is responsible for ensuring that all instructors for the CERT Basic course are qualified to deliver the course and meet the requirements listed in the section below (Instructor qualifications).

Support Instructor Qualifications

Instructors will be recruited and selected to conduct this course based on their working knowledge of the content and skills required for each session. It is recommended that there are at least two instructors at each session . Because Sessions 3 and 4 address disaster medical operations, it is recommended that these sessions be conducted by licensed or certified:
  • Paramedics or Emergency Medical Technicians
  • Nurses
It is recommended that all other sessions be conducted by skilled fire and rescue instructors who have completed the CERT Train-the-Trainer course. Instructors should also be knowledgeable about:
  • The CERT model
  • The types of hazards (natural, technological, and manmade) that present the greatest risk to the community
  • Local building structures that present the greatest hazard in the event of a disaster
  • The community’s emergency operation plan
Instructors are encouraged to add pertinent information to the course, but topics should not be deleted.
**Note – Many CERT programs utilize volunteer instructors in the delivery of CERT Basic. This can be an option as long as the individuals have the necessary skills and background. As noted in the information from the CERT Basic Training Instructor Guide, instructors need to have both general and specific information and background. Specific information includes the content and skills required for any unit(s) they deliver.