Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT)

Starting A CERT Program In Your Community

Interest in CERT is sparked in many ways. Municipal Emergency Management Coordinators should first design a CERT program for their municipality and then recruit volunteers.

Sometimes existing organizations - civic associations, Neighborhood Watch Groups, parent-teacher associations, schools, businesses, etc. - will express an interest in expanding the group's mission to include the formation of a CERT Team. Any activity involving a CERT should be coordinated with the local emergency management office.

To establish a CERT, follow these steps:

  1. Identify persons who may be interested in joining a CERT.
  2. Identify a local municipal official to assist and oversee the formation of the CERT Program. Contact the County CERT Coordinator [pdf] to enroll in a CERT T-T-T Program and to insure coordination of equipment and other materials.
  3. Define the CERT's mission, organization and purpose. This is very important. The CERT members must receive training appropriate to their mission and purpose.
  4. Obtain resources needed to support the CERT, including instructors for various topics and equipment required to safely support the team's mission.
  5. Schedule and conduct training for CERT members.
  6. Offer continuing education, skills review, and emergency management exercises for CERT team members.
  7. Continuously recruit for new team members, conduct team oversight and program maintenance.

Support Available For Local CERT Programs

In order to establish an CERT, the municipal emergency management coordinator, or designee, must attend the CERT Train-the-Trainer Program offered through the NJOEM Recovery Bureau. The CERT T-T-T is intended for individuals who will lead or coordinate a CERT Program, not for individual team members.

During the week of April 1, 2003 the NJOEM launched the CERT Program in each of New Jersey's 21 counties. Each county has designated a CERT Coordinator.