About Baltimore City CERT

The mission of Baltimore City CERT is to prepare Teams of Baltimore City Citizens to identify vulnerabilities in their communities, to educate their communities in Emergency Preparedness, and to train and respond to major emergencies or disasters within Baltimore City.

History and Background

Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) were first developed by the Los Angeles Fire Department in 1985 to respond to earthquakes. They recognized that responses were often delayed in the early stages of a disaster, and citizens would be left to fend for themselves. They created a training program covering preparedness, basic disaster survival, and rescue skills so that citizens would be better able to safely help themselves, their families, and their neighbors until assistance could arrive.

In 1993, CERT training was standardized by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for all hazards. CERT now exists nationwide, and individuals who take the class are better prepared to respond to and cope with disasters. Furthermore, CERT teams can supplement official response following a disaster by providing immediate assistance to victims in their communities.


The CERT course is held at the Public Safety Training Academy (3500 W. Northern Parkway, Baltimore, MD 21215) by a team of CERT volunteers from a variety of backgrounds who have completed the CERT Train-the-Trainer (TTT) conducted by either Maryland Emergency Management Agency or the National Emergency Management Institute. Participants will receive both classroom lectures and practical training.

The CERT training is delivered over an entire weekend, starting Friday evening and taking place over both Saturday and Sunday. The training consists of the following:

  • Unit 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.
  • Unit 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.
  • Unit III, DISASTER MEDICAL OPERATIONS PART I: Participants practice diagnosing and treating airway obstruction, bleeding, and shock by using simple triage and rapid treatment techniques.
  • Unit 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.
  • Unit V, LIGHT SEARCH AND RESCUE OPERATIONS: Participants learn about search and rescue planning, size-up, search techniques, rescue techniques, and most important, rescuer safety.
  • Unit VI, DISASTER PSYCHOLOGY: Covers signs and symptoms that might be experienced by the disaster victim and worker.
  • Unit VII, TEAM ORGANIZATION: Addresses CERT organization, the National Incident Management System (NIMS), management principles, and the need for documentation.
  • Unit VIII, COURSE REVIEW: Participants review their answers from a take home examination
  • Unit IX, DISASTER SIMULATION: Finally, they practice the skills that they have learned during the previous six sessions in disaster activity.

Participants receive a certificate, CERT ID, a CERT safety vest, and a CERT field operations guide.

All training materials are available for download through FEMA or in our File Library.