Community Emergency Response Team

A service provided by the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department
Sheriff Leroy D. Baca
Administered by the Office of Homeland Security - Community/Law Enforcement Partnership Programs Unit

Introduction to Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT)

The Community Emergency Response Team concept was developed and implemented by the Los Angeles City Fire Department (LAFD) 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. As a result, the LAFD created the Disaster Preparedness Division with the purpose of training citizens and private and government employees.

The training program makes good sense and furthers the process of citizens understanding their responsibility in preparing for disaster. It also increases their ability to safely help themselves, their family and their neighbors. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recognizes the importance of preparing citizens. The Emergency Management Institute (EMI) and the National Fire Academy adopted and expanded the CERT materials believing them applicable to all hazards.

The CERT course will benefit any citizen who takes it. This individual will be better prepared to respond to and cope with the aftermath of a disaster. Additionally, if a community wants to supplement its response capability after a disaster, civilians can be recruited and trained as neighborhood, business, and government teams that, in essence, will be auxiliary responders. These groups can provide immediate assistance to victims in their area, organize spontaneous volunteers who have not had the training, and collect disaster intelligence that will assist professional responders with prioritization and allocation of resources following a disaster.

Basic level #1 CERT training is open to anyone who is interested in Life Saving Skills, Disaster Preparedness, Fire Suppression, Cribbing, Light Search & Rescue, Triage, and Head to Toe Assessment. The class is a total of 21 hours that must be completed to receive the FEMA Certificate of graduation. More info on training opportunities can be obtained by visiting

Training is designed to cover the following:

  • Disaster Preparedness
  • Fire Safety
  • Disaster Medical Operations - Triage and Treating Life Threatening Injuries
  • Disaster Medical Operations - Assessment, Treatment, and Hygiene
  • Light Search and Rescue
  • Team Organization
  • Disaster Psychology
  • Terrorism and CERT
  • Final Exercise
    Sessions require about 21 hours to complete
LASD CERT Training
Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department is providing CERT Training Courses in coordination with the Los Angeles County Fire Department and the American Red Cross. For additional information, please contact the Community Law Enforcement Partnership Programs Unit at 323-526-5015.

Maintaining Involvement
When participants have completed this training, it is important to keep them involved and practiced in their skills. Trainers should offer periodic refresher sessions to reinforce the basic training. CERT teams can sponsor events such as drills, picnics, neighborhood clean up, and disaster education fairs which will keep them involved and trained.

First responders need to be educated about the CERT and their value to the community. Using CERT as a component of the response system when there are exercises for potential disasters can reinforce this idea.

For more info on CERT from FEMA: