Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) References

This library contains various reference documents created by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and other sources. Any reference document we list in any of the other Committee created documents will be placed in this library.

Campus CERT Starter Guide

The Campus CERT Starter Guide is designed to assist anyone interested in starting a Campus CERT program, whether that person is a Campus Safety staff member, a faculty member, a student, or another member of the campus community.

Added July 2022 – Campus CERT Starter Guide – FEMA – October 2015

CERT Liability Guide

Although CERT programs differ in some ways, they share the potential to offer substantial benefits to their sponsoring organizations, their communities, and their members. As with any activity, however, there is risk. Although not common in CERT program activities, bodily injuries, illnesses, property damage, and other harmful events can result in adverse consequences for the sponsoring agency or organization, the CERT, or the CERT members, trainers, leaders, and affiliates. Some of these consequences are direct: lawsuits, settlements, payment of benefits to injured CERT members, attorney’s fees, court costs, and civil and criminal penalties under state law. Others are indirect, including the following: disruption of relationships, damage to reputation, and increased insurance costs. In this Guide, we refer to risk and its adverse consequences for brevity purposes as “liability.”

Added July 2022 – CERT Liability Guide – FEMA – November 2015

CERT Team Registration User Guide

The Preparedness Community is FEMA’s online webspace for connecting individuals to preparedness programs, including CERT. You can now register, join, or login to update information about your CERT program. You may also find and connect with a local CERT program using the newly designed CERT Community site.

Added July 2022 – CERT Team Registration User Guide – April 2021

Recruitment & Retention Guide

Understanding volunteerism today and for the future. There are many reasons why people choose to volunteer, and furthermore, why they choose to continue volunteering. Understanding these reasons is key to finding, recruiting, motivating, and retaining volunteers.

Added July 2022 – Recruitment and Retention Guide – Fire Corps – 2010

Managing Spontaneous Volunteers

When disaster – natural or man-made – strikes a community, specific emergency management and nonprofit organizations automatically respond according to a pre-established plan. Each of these designated organizations has a specific role to play in ensuring an effective response to and recovery from the disaster’s devastation. Yet one element within the present system continues to pose a challenge: spontaneous, unaffiliated volunteers.

Added July 2022 – Managing Spontaneous Volunteers – Points of Light Foundation & Volunteer Center National Network – 2004

Starting and Maintaining CERT

Initially, CERT programs were developed to assist communities in taking care of themselves in the aftermath of a major disaster when first responders are overwhelmed or unable to respond because of communication or transportation difficulties. As the CERT concept has taken hold across the country, however, CERTs have become much more than originally envisioned. CERTs have proven themselves to be an active and vital part of their communities’ preparedness and response capability.

Added July 2022 – Starting and Maintaining a CERT Program – FEMA – 2002

State Liability Laws for Charitable Organizations and Volunteers

Good Samaritan Laws. Volunteer Protection. Volunteer Immunity. Liability Limitation. Shield Laws. Charitable Immunity. These terms, which have significant, as well as subtle distinctions, have been used to describe laws that protect people and organizations in the nonprofit sector from claims, lawsuits and allegations of wrongdoing.

Added July 2022 – State Liability Laws for Charitable Organizations and Volunteers – Nonprofit Risk Management Center – September 2001


The Teen CERT concept was created to address preparedness and response capabilities from within high schools. While many schools have taken measures to provide for site security analysis and equipment, more effort is needed to train staff and students in school security and emergency response procedures, and to involve youth in the country’s overall emergency preparedness and response plans. Teen CERT aims to train students in emergency preparedness and basic response to ensure that they have the skills needed to protect themselves, and assist others, in the event of an emergency.

Added July 2022 – Teen CERT: Launching and Maintaining the Training – FEMA – March 2012

Volunteer Liability

A 2009 letter to the I-SERVE Program from the Iowa Department of Justice regarding volunteer liability.

Added July 2022 – I-SERV Volunteer Liability – State of Iowa Department of Justice Guidance Letter – September 2009

Workplace CERT Starter Guide

A Workplace CERT program can support and enhance existing capabilities, and CERT volunteers can participate in efforts to increase the preparedness and resilience of the workplace and community. A Workplace CERT program equips employees with skills that enable them to perform basic disaster response operations in an emergency. Having trained volunteers available on staff helps protect the health, safety, and lives of people at your workplace. Workplace CERT volunteers are trained using the CERT Basic Training curriculum.

Added July 2022 – Workplace CERT: Starter Guide – FEMA – March 2016

Retention and Recruitment for the Volunteer Emergency Services

Although the recruitment and retention challenges continue to grow, some volunteer organizations maintain good membership while others continue to function with reduced numbers. Those organizations that seek solutions and adapt to our changing personnel environment are successful.

Added July 2022 – Retention and Recruitment for the Volunteer Emergency Services: Challenging Solutions – U.S Fire Administration/FEMA – FA-310 – May 2007

Leadership and Influence

Being able to lead others to motivate them to commit their energies and expertise to achieving the shared mission and goals of the emergency management system is a necessary and vital part of every emergency manager, planner, and responder’s job. This course is designed to improve your leadership and influence skills.

Added July 2022 – Leadership and Influence: Independent Study – FEMA – December 2005

Decision Making and Problem Solving

Being able to make decisions and solve problems effectively is a necessary and vital part of the job for every emergency manager, planner, and responder. This course is designed to improve your decision-making skills.

Added July 2022 – Decision Making and Problem Solving: Independent Study – FEMA – November 2005

Developing and Managing Volunteers

This course offers training in identifying volunteer resources and recruiting, assigning, training, supervising, evaluating, and motivating volunteers. The course also focuses on coordinating with voluntary agencies (VOLAGs), Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD), community-based organizations (CBOs), such as church groups or food banks, professional groups, such as physicians and mental health counselors, and business and industry.

Added July 2022 – Developing and Managing Volunteers: Independent Study – FEMA – February 2006