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Office of Emergency Services

The CERT News

California Service Corps, Office of the Governor

Since September 11, 2001, Americans have demonstrated a genuine commitment to serving communities. Citizen Corps was created to answer the questions “What can I do?” and “How can I help?”

Citizen Corps is a component of President Bush's USA Freedom Corps initiative and was created to allow every American the opportunity to engage in family and community safety programs. The components of the Citizen Corp Program are: Neighborhood Watch, Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), Fire Corps, Volunteers in Police Service (VIPS) and the Medical Reserve Corps (MRC). For additional information on these components visit the California Service Corps (CSC) Web Site at

The San Bernardino County Citizen Corps Program is designed to engage residents in community and family safety programs by helping to prepare family and neighbors in the event of a disaster.

The San Bernardino County Fire Department/Office of Emergency Services (OES) is preparing communities for emergencies, natural disasters, and acts of terrorism by creating a Citizen Corps Sub-Council Standard Operating Procure (SOP) for the County unincorporated areas. Citizen Corps CouncilThe purpose of this SOP is to provide a standardized approach and structure for creating Citizen Corps Sub-Councils in the unincorporated areas of the County. The SOP is under development and scheduled for release in late June 2005. Trained and equipped citizens are citizens who know what to do in a crisis. Citizen Corps Sub-Councils membership could be an existing group that supports and brings together different sectors of the community. The Sub-Council will provide leadership and a link to the local fire department for program guidance in the Unincorporated County areas. Duties of a Sub-Council could include educating the public on safety, helping citizens take an active role in protecting themselves from harm, teaching citizens what to do in a crisis. Citizen Corps Sub Councils can effectively utilize the time, talents, and interests of volunteers in support of first responders and overall community preparedness.
The creation of Sub-Councils will allow the unincorporated areas the ability to participate in Citizen Corps Programs.

Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT)



The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Program educates people about disaster preparedness and trains them in basic response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, and disaster medial operations. Using their training, CERT members can assist others in their neighborhood or workplace following an event and can take a more active role in preparing their community. The Department of Homeland Security administers the program.

Programs and PartnersSan Bernardino County Program participants will receive a CERT Emergency Response Kit. These kits contain a green CERT labeled backpack, green CERT labeled safety helmet, chinstrap, and a green CERT labeled vest and participant training manual.

There are currently nine (9) jurisdictions supporting Citizen Corps Programs with in the County. They are: San Bernardino County, Town of Apple Valley, Town of Yucca Valley, City of Colton, City of Fontana, City of Loma Linda, City of Rialto, City of Redlands, and City of Victorville. The communities of Helendale, Morongo Basin, Lucerne Valley, Wrightwood, Phelan, Pinion Hills, and Green Valley Lake are establishing their Sub-Councils.


The CERT training for community groups is usually delivered in seven sessions, one evening a week over a 7-week period. The class time commitment is a total of 20 hours. The training consists of the following:

Session I, DISASTER PREPAREDNESS: Addresses hazards to which people are vulnerable in their community. Materials cover actions that participants and their families take before, during, and after a disaster. As the session progresses, the instructor begins to explore an expanded response role for civilians in that they should begin to consider themselves disaster workers. Since they will want to help their family members and neighbors, this training can help them operate in a safe and appropriate manner. The CERT concept and organization are discussed as well as applicable laws governing volunteers in that jurisdiction.

Community Emergency Response Team Training

Session II, DISASTER FIRE SUPPRESSION: Briefly covers fire chemistry, hazardous materials, fire hazards, and fire suppression strategies. However, the thrust of this session is the safe use of fire extinguishers, sizing up the situation, controlling utilities, and extinguishing a small fire.

Session III, DISASTER MEDICAL OPERATIONS PART I: Participants practice diagnosing and treating airway obstruction, bleeding, and shock by using simple triage and rapid treatment techniques.

Session IV, DISASTER MEDICAL OPERATIONS, PART II: Covers evaluating patients by doing a head to toe assessment, establishing a medical treatment area, performing basic first aid, and practicing in a safe and sanitary manner.

Picture of rescue workersSession V, LIGHT SEARCH AND RESCUE OPERATIONS: Participants learn about search and rescue planning, size-up, search techniques, rescue techniques, and most important, rescuer safety.

Session VI, DISASTER PSYCHOLOGY AND TEAM ORGANIZATION: Covers signs and symptoms that might be experienced by the disaster victim and worker. It addresses CERT organization and management principles and the need for documentation.

Session VII, COURSE REVIEW AND DISASTER SIMULATION: Participants review their answers from a take home examination. Finally, they practice the skills that they have learned during the previous six sessions in disaster activity.

During each session participants are required to purchase and bring safety equipment (gloves, goggles, mask) and disaster supplies (bandages, flashlight, dressings) that will be used during the session. By doing this for each session, participants are building their own disaster response kit of items that they will need during a disaster.

For additional or updated information about the San Bernardino County unincorporated areas CERT Program contact: San Bernardino County Fire Department Office of Emergency Services at 909.356.3998.

Click here for photos of the CERT Academy Class

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