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Community Emergency Response Team, or CERT, is a free training program administered through the county fire and rescue department. The training prepares residents to help themselves, their families, and their neighbors in the event of a disaster in their community. Through CERT, residents can learn about disaster preparedness and receive training in basic disaster response skills such as fire safety, light search and rescue, and disaster medical operations. With this training, volunteers can provide critical support by giving immediate assistance to victims before emergency first responders arrive on scene.
Residents are trained to "self-activate" in case of major disasters; disasters where regular emergency services are overwhelmed. Students are trained to respond within their neighborhoods to help their neighbors during these times. CERT instructors teach that CERT members are to activate for duty "when you pick up the phone to call 911 and 911 isn't there to answer." CERT members will not be at car accident scenes, nor will they help at the scene of a house fire. They are used in mass casualty/major disasters only, e.g., Hurricane Katrina, major flooding, etc... CERT members are trained to operate for up to three days without outside assistance, using materials that can be found on scene. CERT members are taught to recruit and train their neighbors to help in carrying out their duties.
In class, students learn to triage large numbers of injured people. Students also learn how to conduct light search and rescue operations, how to move a 9,000-pound piece of a roadway bridge using materials at hand to get to trapped victims. Students learn radio techniques, disaster psychology, proper use of fire extinguishers and how to administer lifesaving first aid. The class is 28 hours in length, plus the final exercise.
CERT training is free of charge and basic CERT gear is provided. The minimum requirements to participate in CERT training at any level is that residents be 16 years of age or older, and either be a Fairfax County resident, or work in Fairfax County.
CERT training is offered several times a year, at the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Academy and other locations throughout the community. Get Cert Trained!!
Other CERT Training Opportunities:
For students who have completed CERT training, Fairfax County CERT offers ongoing refresher and continuing education courses, ranging from radio operations, moulage (wound makeup), first aid and CPR, and more. In addition, CERTs can train to become volunteer instructors.
Students of all physical abilities are welcome. To stay current as a CERT, you must participate in at least one refresher course per calendar year.
If you are interested in signing up for CERT training, Click here. For all other inquiries, please contact the Fire and Rescue Department Volunteer Liaison’s office at 703-246-4683, TTY 711 or click here. For additional volunteer opportunities in the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department, visit the Fairfax County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association website.