CERT Training

Coronavirus Update

CERT Basic Training is currently following both a hybrid model, which includes a hands-on training, and a fully in-person training. All in-person classes are for vaccinated students only. CERT instructors must be vaccinated as well.

See the CERT COVID-19 Policy

CERT Basic Training for 2023

The CERT Basic Training Course prepares you to help yourself and others at home and in your community in the event of a catastrophic disaster. Because first responders will not be able to help everyone immediately, CERT training can help you stay safe, save lives, and protect property. You will learn what to do on your own, in your neighborhood, and how to help others as part of a CERT team.

When you complete the CERT Basic Course, you have the option to also receive a Disaster Service Worker (DSW) badge good for five (5) years. For re-certification, and to get an updated badge, here are the recertification guidelines and the steps to follow. Contact us if you need re-certification this year.

About the CERT Basic course in 2023

COVID has changed many things in our world, and CERT is no exception. As we move into a phase where COVID vaccines and booster shots are readily available, it is the policy of the CERT Auxiliary that all in-person activities and instruction require COVID vaccination for all participants.

We have two tracks for CERT Basic this year:

1) CERT Basic In-Person Class is being offered for those who prefer to learn in person instead of online.

The class will consist of 4 evening classes which combine lecture, discussion, and hands-on skills practice. The class concludes with one full-weekend day session that includes classwork, review, and hands-on team activities including search and rescue, extractions, proper use of fire extinguishers, and cribbing. Proof of vaccination will need to be sent to the Basic Training Coordinator prior to registration. This class requires attendance at ALL sessions.

— Class dates:

Jan-Feb — Thursdays, January 19th and 26th, February 2nd and 9th at Central Fire Station #1, 930 – 17th Av, Santa Cruz, from 6:00 pm to 9:30 pm for in-person lecture/hands-on class. ALSO, Sunday, February 12th at Central Fire Station #5, 6934 Soquel Drive, Aptos, from 9 am to 3:30 pm for final lectures and outside hands-on sessions.

Sign up for the in-person class series. Be sure to select the tab for the Full In-Person Jan/Feb class.

2) CERT Basic Hybrid Class combines online training with an in-person class and a hands-on skill-check session.

  • Phase 1 is a 12- to-15-hour FEMA-developed online course of instruction and a 2-hour California CERT-developed online triage unit. The online training is broken into 8 units plus a final exam that may be taken at your own pace and convenience. You must complete Phase 1 before signing up for Phase 2. Contact Us for more information. You will receive a phone call where we can answer any questions you have. After chatting, if you are interested in the hybrid model, we will send you the website link for Phase 1 online training.
    Contact us about Phase 1
  • Phase 2 (Only for those who have completed the Phase 1 hybrid course) is a 3-hour in-person OR Zoom (depending on instructor availability) instructor-led class providing local information, teach backs and review of the online CERT training. For the safety of all, only COVID-vaccinated instructors and students will participate if held in person. Certificates of Completion for the online CERT Basic and Triage units as well as proof of vaccination will need to be sent to the Basic Training coordinator prior to registration.
    Upcoming dates:
    — Next dates to be announced
  • Phase 3 (Only for those who have completed the Phase 2 Zoom or in-person course) will be a 5-hour outdoor hands-on session where you can demonstrate your CERT-related skills. You will receive a CERT backpack and tools, CERT vest and helmet. Once you have completed Phase 3, you will receive your CERT certification and optional DSW badge. For the safety of all, only COVID-vaccinated instructors and students will participate. Proof of vaccination will need to be sent to the Basic Training Coordinator prior to registration.
    Upcoming dates:
    — Next dates to be announced

Subjects covered in the Basic CERT class

Each class may cover these in a different order

1. Disaster Preparedness

  • Recent Disasters and Emergencies
  • Home and Workplace Preparedness
  • Community Preparedness

2. CERT Organization

  • CERT Organization
  • CERT Mobilization
  • The CERT Team in Action

3 & 4. Disaster Medical Operations

  • Treating Life-Threatening Conditions
  • Triage
  • Treating Injuries and Wounds
  • Mass Casualty incidents
  • Establishing Treatment Areas
  • Head to Toe Assessments
  • Disaster Psychology

5. Disaster Psychology

  • Disaster Reactions
  • Self-Care and Team Well-Being

6. Fire Safety and Utility Controls

  • Fire Chemistry
  • Fire Suppression (for small fires)
  • Fire and Utility Hazards
  • Hazardous Materials

7. Light Search and Rescue Operations

  • Safety During Search and Rescue Operations
  • Conducting Search Operations
  • Conducting Rescue Operations

8. CERT and Terrorism

  • Preparing Your Community
  • Active Shooter Situations
  • Until Help Arrives

9. Review and Exercise

  • Course Review
  • Disaster Simulation
  • Final Exam

CERT Continuing Education Classes

Continuing education classes are held from time to time. They help CERT team members refresh skills learned in the Basic classes as well as learn new skills. Attendance at these classes counts towards the 20 hours of CERT training required for renewal of the DSW badge and CERT recertification every five years.

At all the evening continuing education sessions, CERT recertification will take place from 6:30–7:00 pm for those who need to update their badges. (Currently with the precautions for the coronavirus, please email certauxiliary@gmail.com about procedures to follow for recertification.)

Note: Unless otherwise specified, each Continuing Education class must have a minimum of 10 registered one week before the class begins, or it may be cancelled. You will be notified if the minimum has not been met.

  • Stop the Bleed — Feb 25
    Presenters — Joyce Smith and Mary Edmund, RN, CERT instructors
    What stops bleeding? In this STOP THE BLEED course, you’ll learn three quick techniques to help save a life before someone bleeds out: (1) How to use your hands to apply pressure to a wound; (2) How to pack a wound to control bleeding; (3) How to correctly apply a tourniquet. These three techniques will empower you to assist in an emergency and potentially save a life. Class limited to 16 participants.
    – Saturday, February 25, 10 am – 12 pm
    Central Fire Community Room, 930 – 17th Ave, Santa Cruz

Recorded Continuing Education Classes

Because of the pandemic, we have been holding CERT continuing education classes on Zoom. Here are selected classes that were recorded. You won’t be able to ask questions, but you can still learn from the instructors and the discussion.

If you have specific questions from any of these trainings, please email training@santacruzcountycert.org.

You’ve been on Zoom. Please excuse the occasional technical glitches.

  • Lightning!
    LIGHTNING: What We Know and What We Have Yet to Learn
    Presenter: Dr. Jacquelyn Ringhausen, Lightning Scientist with NOAA, National Oceanic Atmospheric and Administration Research, at the world’s preeminent National Severe Storms Laboratory in Oklahoma.
    Watch the recording
  • Triage Review
    Presenter – Mary Edmund RN, CERT Instructor, and Leader Seacliff Neighborhood Team
    Yellow, red, recovery position, stages of bleeding — do you remember these? Here is an opportunity for a convenient review of triage concepts and CERT’s role in mass casualty situations.
    Watch the recording
  • Disaster Psychology Refresher
    Presenter — Dr. Avril Salter, CERT Instructor, and member City of Santa Cruz Team
    Which skill do you think you will use as a CERT volunteer the most? It may surprise you that it is not putting out fires or stopping the bleed. It is disaster psychology. This is because CERT volunteers help the people in our community. We do not just help in disasters. We help prepare people for a disaster, direct traffic, and other community support activities. The people we are helping exhibit emotional responses in all of these situations.You, the people you are helping, and your fellow CERT buddy will all benefit from your skills in disaster psychology.
    Watch the recording
  • Tsunamis -- Hear from the Experts
    a) Brian Garcia — Warning Coordination Meteorologist, National Weather Service Monterey/San Francisco Bay Area
    b) Yvette LaDuke — Program Manager Earthquake, Tsunami and Volcano Program Seismic Hazards Branch, Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES)
    c) Rick Wilson — Senior Engineering Geologist Seismic Hazards Program, Tsunami Unit Mgr., California Geological SurveyHow to be aware of tsunami hazards, and how to prepare for them.
    Watch the recording
  • CERT, Firewise USA and the Fire Safe Council of Santa Cruz County: collaboration opportunity for community education
    Presenters — LizAnne Jensen, FireSafe Council volunteer, executive committee member, and CERT Auxiliary Board member; and Lynn Sestak, FireSafe Council volunteer, board member, Firewise coach for this County, and new CERT member for Loma Prieta area
    Firewise USA, a national program, is a framework that helps neighbors work together in a community to reduce wildfire risk, through education and collaboration. Local Fire Safe Councils in the South Bay area (including Fire Safe Council of Santa Cruz County) promote the Firewise USA recognition process as a way for communities in the WUI (Wildland-Urban Interface) to reduce their wildfire risk. This includes education pieces for helping neighbors to work together on defensible space, home hardening, evacuation planning and more. With the current drought conditions and fire anxiety very high, there is a lot of interest in the Firewise USA program. The Fire Safe Council of Santa Cruz is seeking partners to assist interested neighborhoods who want to go Firewise. With CERTs’ focus on preparedness, we are exploring the possibility of partnering with  the Fire Safe Council to help communities become more fire safe.
    Watch the recording
  • Call Center Setup and Staffing
    Presenters — Liz Taylor-Selling, Branch Leader, and Bill Fitler, Member Felton Area CERT
    Early in the CZU Wildfire event, CERT was asked to staff the CalFire call center to answer phone calls from the public when professionals were handling the fire event. This Call Center training was developed from the lessons learned, and reviews core CERT safety and disaster psychology principles, preparing us to assist again in case we are called to do so.
    Watch the recording
  • Disaster Psychology for Yourself, Team Members, and Survivors
    Presenter — Laura Vroman, Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and La Selva Beach Team member
    Additional information beyond what was presented in CERT Basic Training, focusing on children, psychological first aid, mindfulness, and how to stay upbeat in this COVID environment.
    Watch the recording
  • Utility Safety and Handling Emergencies
    Presenter — Stew Roth, PG&E Community Representative
    Are you ready for power shut-offs and possible utility emergencies? PG&E representative Stew Roth presents an informative and engaging discussion dealing with gas and electric infrastructure, identifying utility hazards and risks, with a special focus on downed power lines.
    Watch the recording
  • Beginning MURS Radios (Multi Radio Service)
    Presenter — Dawn Mackey, Registrar, ARES, Team Bonny Doon
    Now that you have a new MURS radio, attend an online class on how to use it. Provides basic information for radio maintenance, operation, etiquette and protocols.
    Watch the recording
  • MURS Radio Intermediate Class
    CERT radio communication allows for information to be gathered quickly and passed on to help make decisions on priority of response. In this intermediate class the discussion centers on radio wave propagation, making calls, CERT and ARES radio structure and radio accessories (possibilities of increasing range).
    Watch the recording | View the handout
  • Map Your Neighbor (MYN) Workshop
    Presenter — Joyce Smith, Team Santa Cruz, and others
    Neighborhoods that are prepared for emergencies and disaster situations save lives and reduce the severity of injuries and property damage. In addition, contributing as an individual and working together as a team helps develop stronger communities and improves the quality of life in the community.
    The Map Your Neighborhood program guides you and your neighbors through simple steps to help enhance your preparedness for an emergency or disaster. We outline ways to set up the program in your neighborhood and how to be ready to take advantage of the ”golden hour.”
    Watch the recording
  • Equine Evacuation
    Presenter — Kenneth Coale, Coordinator / Staging Area Manager
    Do you own large animals — horses, llamas and alpacas? Are you prepared to evacuate them in case of wildfire or other emergencies? Find out how you may prepare and utilize pre-planning, and what steps are necessary to get help. Presentation will provide Equine Evacuation’s role in past emergencies, and how they are activated and trained for their mission.
    Watch the recording
  • Fire Safe Council
    Presenter — LizAnne Jensen, Vice President, CERT Auxiliary Board of Directors
    The purpose of Fire Safe Santa Cruz County (FSSCC) is to educate and mobilize the people of Santa Cruz County to protect their community, homes, and environment from wildfire. Two-thirds of Santa Cruz County is considered Wildland Urban Interface (WUI), putting a large percentage of our population, housing, economy, wildlife, and environment at risk from catastrophic fire. Find out what programs and steps we may all take to make our neighborhoods and communities more resilient to wildfires through education, home hardening, strategic fuel reduction, and community collaboration.
    As a handy reference guide, please download this Wildfire Preparation Worksheet and Emergency Evacuation Guide.
    Watch the recording
  • Utility Safety and Handling Emergencies
    Presenter — Stew Roth, PG&E Community Representative
    Are you ready for power shut-offs and possible utility emergencies? PG&E representative Stew Roth presents an informative and engaging discussion dealing with gas and electric infrastructure, identifying utility hazards and risks, and recognizing emergencies and what to do about them.
    Watch the recording
  • Active Shooter — What to Do!
    Presenter — Marsha Hovey, Emergency Management Consultant
    Prepare for an Active Shooter scenario. Learn a survival mindset, planning ahead, decision making and run, hide and fight strategies.
    Watch the recording
  • Risk Management for the CERT Squad
    Presenter — John Collins, Team Leader Scotts Valley/Branciforte CERT
    How do CERTs size-up disaster situations? What are the risks involved? This class will take you through possible scenarios and outline steps to keeping your squad and survivors safe.
    Watch the recording
  • Leader Development
    Presenter — John Collins, Team Leader Scotts Valley/Branciforte CERT
    In an activation, what if you are the first one at the Command Post or assigned as a CERT Team Lead in a new operation? What do you do? Discussion will center on setting up an operation or command post, focusing on situation awareness, and reporting through the chain of command. The class will take you through possible scenarios and outline steps to keeping CERTs and survivors safe.
    Watch the recording
  • Advanced Search and Rescue (SAR)
    Presenter — Stacie McGrady, Retired SAR Officer, and CERT Instructor
    A quick review of SAR from CERT Basic Training, then a discussion on advanced concepts and a deeper dive into structural damage and safe searches.
    Watch the recording
  • Temporary, Portable, and Emergency Power Options
    Presenter — David Dean, Co-Branch Leader for Live Oak/Soquel Branch
    There are now a wide variety of options available for temporary, portable, and emergency power. When there are so many options it’s sometimes hard to keep up with them all, to know what you’re buying or looking for when you buy, or to know what the best choices are for a given situation. This session should help you understand what options are available, what you need to know to evaluate when to use them, and hopefully give you some good ideas for how to prepare the next time you might need temporary, portable or emergency power.
    Watch the recording

Emergency-related training available from other organizations may be found on our Resources page.