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Island County > Emergency Management > Community Emergency Response Team

Community Emergency Response Team (CERT)

The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program educates volunteers about disaster preparedness for the hazards that may impact their area and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations. CERT offers a consistent, nationwide approach to volunteer training and organization that professional responders can rely on during disaster situations, which allows them to focus on more complex tasks. Through CERT, the capabilities to prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters is built and enhanced.

At the same time, 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. CERT volunteers are trained to respond safely, responsibly, and effectively to emergency situations, but they can also support their communities during non-emergency events as well. There are over 2,700 local CERT programs nationwide, with more than 600,000 individuals trained since CERT became a national program.

What Does the Course Involve?

The course consists of 8 units and a review. Classes are taught by trained emergency personnel. The format may very from one or more classes a week to three 8 hour days. Scheduling is up to the instructor and the class.  The course agenda is generally as follows:

  • Disaster Preparedness: Addresses hazards specific to the community. Materials cover actions that participants and their families take before, during and after a disaster as well as an overview of CERT and local laws governing volunteers.
  • Fire Suppression: Covers fire chemistry, hazardous materials, fire hazards and fire suppression strategies. However, the thrust of this session is the safe use of fire extinguishers, controlling utilities and extinguishing a small fire.
  • Medical Operations Part I: Participants practice diagnosing and treating airway obstruction, bleeding and shock by using simple triage and rapid treatment techniques.
  • Medical Operations Part II: Covers evaluating patients by doing a head to toe assessment, establishing a medical treatment area and performing basic first aid.
  • Light Search and Rescue Operations: Participants learn about search and rescue planning, size-up, search techniques, rescue techniques and rescuer safety.
  • Psychology and Team Organization: Covers signs and symptoms that might be experienced by the disaster victim and workers, and addresses CERT organization and management.
  • Course Review and Disaster Simulation: Participants review and practice the skills that they have learned during the previous six sessions in a disaster activity.


Register for a Class

Please fill out the Registration Packet.pdf and email it to dem@islandcountywa.gov.

CERT Basic Training Flyer



March 24-26, 2023
Oak Harbor Fire Department
April 21-23, 2023
Camano Island, Vista Madrona Station
May 12-14, 2023
South Whidbey, Bayview Fire Station


The target audience for this course is private citizens, businesses, and schools who desire to prepare for and respond to a disaster.

Take a Class

Island County CERT classes run Friday through Sunday and consist of 20 hours of training. You may take this class as many times as you desire as we want you to feel comfortable with the knowledge we are sharing. The class is free to take.

Preparing for Class

As Coordinator for the Community Emergency Response Team, I applaud your commitment to our community, and am excited to work with Island County Department of Emergency Management and local fire departments in presenting this course.

There is an optional online course to take before class. This is a no-cost course provided by FEMA – Emergency Management Institute. You are encouraged to complete the course (and the test) prior to the CERT Class. We will be reviewing this coursework in class.

IS 317: Introduction to Community Emergency Response Teams

When: This is an accelerated class held on three consecutive days.
• (Friday) 6 to 9:00 PM – Orientation and Introduction
• (Saturday) 9 AM to 5 PM – Classroom and hands-on
• (Sunday) 9 AM to 5 PM – Classroom and hands-on

What to bring: You will need to bring a 1½ inch binder to hold your manual. Bring lunch/snacks and wear comfortable work clothes for Saturday and Sunday. Exercises (drills) will be indoors and out. 

Cost: The course is FREE.

Please be courteous and let me know as soon as you are able, if you need to cancel. There is room in the class if you have a friend or relative that would like to join last minute!

Questions may be directed to dem@islandcountywa.gov and we look forward to seeing you.

Sample Class Schedule

Welcome & Introduction18:00 – 18:20
Section 1 Disaster Preparedness18:20 – 20:30
Section 2 CERT Organization20:20 – 21:30
Section 3, Disaster Medical I09:00 – 11:30
Section 8, Terrorism11:30 – 12:30
12:30 – 13:00
Section 4, Disaster Medical II13:00 – 15:00
Break15:00 – 15:30

Section 5, Disaster Psychology
15:30 – 17:00
Section 6, Fire Safety09:00 – 11:00
Section 7, Search and Rescue11:00 – 12:30
12:30 – 13:00
Section 7, Search and Rescue, cont.13:00 – 14:00
Practical Exercise14:00 – 17:00
*guest speakers from Island County Sheriff, Amateur Radio Clubs, Therapy Dogs, and others are interspersed throughout the weekend, so the schedule is only a -guide- and susceptible to change.

Interested in CERT?