"Our Mission: We, the El Dorado Hills Fire Department, exist to serve and protect the Community through emergency management."


Q: What is CERT?

A: CERT stands for Community Emergency Response Team and is made up of volunteers who are trained to respond safely, responsibly, and effectively to emergency situations. They can also support their communities during non-emergency events as well.

EDHFire offers citizens the full FEMA Community Emergency Response Team training which consists of 24 hours of lecture and hands-on skills training to assist in preparing citizens to take care of themselves, their family and their neighborhood during a catastrophic event.


Q: What is the History of CERT?

A: The CERT concept was developed and implemented by the Los Angeles City Fire Department in 1985. The Whittier Narrows earthquake in 1987 underscored the area-wide threat of a major disaster in California. Further, it confirmed the need for training civilians to meet their immediate needs.

In 1993 this training was made available nationally by FEMA. CERT programs are now in all 50 states, including many tribal nations and U.S. territories; each unique to its community but all essential to building a Culture of Preparedness. There are over 2,700 local CERT programs nationwide, with more than 600,000 individuals trained since CERT became a national program. The CERT program was designed as a grassroots initiative and specifically structured so that the local and state program managers have the flexibility to form their programs in the way that best suits their communities. 

FEMA supports CERT by conducting or sponsoring Train-the-Trainer and Program Manager courses for members of the fire, medical and emergency management community.

FEMA’s Community Emergency Response Team Program trains volunteers to prepare for the types of disasters that their community may face. Through hands-on practice and realistic exercises, CERT members:

  • Learn how to safely respond to manmade and natural hazards
  • Help organize basic disaster response
  • Promote preparedness by hosting and participating in community events
  • Please contact your local emergency manager

Q: How does cert benefit the community?

A: People who go through CERT training have a better understanding of the potential threats to their home, workplace and community and can take the right steps to lessen the effects of these hazards on themselves, their homes or workplace. If a disaster happens that overwhelms local response capability, CERT members can apply the training learned in the classroom and during exercises to give critical support to their family, loved ones, neighbors or associates in their immediate area until help arrives. When help does arrive, CERTs provide useful information to responders and support their efforts, as directed, at the disaster site. CERT members can also assist with non-emergency projects that improve the safety of the community. CERTs have been used to distribute and/or install smoke alarms, replace smoke alarm batteries in the home of elderly, distribute disaster education material, provide services at special events, such as parades, sporting events, concerts and more.


Q: Why should I become a CERT member?

A: Local government prepares for everyday emergencies. However, there can be an emergency or disaster that can overwhelm the community’s immediate response capability. While adjacent jurisdictions, State and Federal resources can activate to help, there may be a delay for them getting to those who need them. The primary reason for CERT training is to give people the decision-making, organizational, and practical skills to offer immediate assistance to family members, neighbors, and associates while waiting for help. While people will respond to others in need without the training, the goal of the CERT program is to help people do so effectively and efficiently without placing themselves in unnecessary danger.

A success story about CERTs comes from events during the wildfires in Florida. The Edgewater CERT helped emergency management and the fire department personnel by assisting with evacuation; handling donations; preparing food for firefighters; and answering the phone while the professionals were fighting the fire. This is a great example of CERT members and response personnel working together for the benefit of the community.


Q: what training is involved to become a cert member?

A: You can read more about the program and the training involved by viewing the CERT Training page.


Q: How do I become a CERT member?

A: If you decide you want to register for the training, please complete the online registration form. You will be invited to attend the next CERT training session for your qualification level. A background investigation and fingerprinting will be required before placement in any sensitive volunteer position. In some placements, TB testing is required.


Q: What are the different Qualification levels of cert?

A: There are three different qualification levels of CERT:

CERT Level III: Basic Qualification This is the entry level qualification for the EDHFire Community Emergency Response Team. This program involves training over a three week period totaling 24hrs of hands on and classroom sessions. The CERT member is trained in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, team organization, and disaster medical operations. This level is not a deployable person but can assist with community events and department programs.

CERT Level II: Deployable Volunteers build on the basic training from level III to provide skills necessary to work with EDHFire CERT team in coordinated activities when assisting professional responders in emergency response situations. This program involves training over a three week period totaling 24hrs of hands on and classroom sessions. Using the training learned in the classroom and during exercises, CERT members can assist others in their neighborhood or workplace following an event when professional responders are not immediately available to help. This level trains a deployable person and can respond to disasters, as well as assist with community events, department programs. CERT level III is a prerequisite to taking level II training.

CERT Level I: First Responder This is our most advanced qualification, which includes advanced training in first aid. This qualification provides access to all CERT activities and exercises. The qualification includes CPR for the professional rescuer and Emergency Medical Responder. Course length is approximately 56 hours of lecture plus hands-on demonstrations and evaluations. Level I qualification is based on certification and training that is required to be renewed every two years with a minimum of 16 hours of training. Members who hold and maintain a current EMT or higher qualification automatically meet this qualification level (assuming all other Level II qualification requirements are met.)


Q: How do CERT members maintain their skills?

A: CERT members and the sponsor work together to maintain team skills. It is suggested that the sponsor conduct refresher classes and an annual exercise where all CERT members are invited to participate. Some response agencies have conducted joint exercises with CERT team and operate as they would during an actual disaster. The last point does bring up a lesson learned. Besides training CERT members, it is also important to train members of response agencies about CERTs, the skills that teams have and the role that they will have during a major disaster. One way to develop this trust is by encouraging agency personnel to participate in classes as instructors and coaches, and activities involving CERTs.

Understanding that CERTs may operate independently following a disaster. CERTs can practice this independence by taking some responsibility for their training. Teams can design activities and exercises for themselves and with other teams. Some members can be rescuers, some victims, and some evaluators.


Q: what if i want to do more than just the basic training?

A: CERT members can increase their knowledge and capability by attending classes provided by other community agencies on animal care, special needs concerns, donation management, community relations, shelter management, debris removal, utility control, advanced first aid, Automatic External Defibrillator use, CPR skills, and others. The sponsoring agency should maintain records of this training and call upon CERT members when these additional skills are needed in the community.

CERT members also can use their skills to help the program flourish by volunteering to schedule events, produce a newsletter, perform administrative work, and take leadership positions.


Q: what if i have concerns about my age or physical ability?

A: There are many jobs within a CERT for someone who wants to be involved and help. Following a disaster, CERT members are needed for documentation, comforting others, logistics, etc. Non-disaster related team activities may include keeping databases, writing a newsletter, planning activities, helping with special events and organizing exercises and activities.

During CERT classroom training, if one has a concern about doing a skill like lifting, just let the instructor know. You can learn from watching. We would like everyone who wants to go through the training to have an opportunity to participate and learn the skills. CERT educates participants about local hazards and trains them in skills that are useful during disaster and life’s everyday emergencies.


Q: what about liability?

A: The text of the Volunteer Protection Act of 1997 is available for viewing. Also there is information about State Liability Laws located on the Citizen Corps website. During training, each sponsoring agency should brief its CERT members about their responsibilities as a CERT member and volunteer. Finally, there is a job aid on liability for you to review in our Start a CERT Program section.

The CERT material was developed by the Los Angeles City Fire Department and adopted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in 1993. The CERT manual contains basic and straightforward material that has been accepted by those using it as the standard for training.

It is important to remember that the best sources of help in emergencies are professional responders. However, in situations when they are not immediately available, people will want to act and help. We have seen this time and again in our history. CERT training teaches skills that people can use to safely help while waiting for responders. The alternative is to do nothing and that is not in our nature.


Q: How is CERT funded?

A: Congress has provided funds through the Citizen Corps program to the States and Territories. Grants from these funds may be available to local communities to start CERT programs. Please email the This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you wish to donate to this program.