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Community Emergency Response Team

In 95 percent of all emergencies, the victim or bystander provides the first immediate assistance on the scene. 

Would you know what to do?

CERT stands for Community Emergency Response Team.  CERT is a FEMA-sponsored, State supported and locally run training program that prepares you to help yourself, your family, and your neighbors in the event of a disaster.  When a widespread disaster strikes, emergency agencies are likely to be overwhelmed.  Emergency service personnel may not be able to reach everyone right away.  People may have to rely on each other with limited public or private organizational assistance – for hours or even days.  By getting CERT training, you will have the skills to help emergency responders save lives and protect property.

CERT training takes about 18-21 hours to complete, typically one evening a week for two months.  It provides critical skills in emergency preparedness and response.  Training is conducted by trained CERT Instructors and first responders from your community.  

Participants learn how to:

  • Identify and anticipate  natural and manmade hazards within your communities

  • Prepare themselves and their families for those hazards

  • Reduce fire hazards in the home/workplace and extinguish small fires

  • Conduct light search and rescue

  • Set up medical treatment areas and apply basic medical first aid to the injured

  • Help reduce survivor stress using psychological first aid

  • Organize themselves and spontaneous volunteers to be effective force multipliers through the use of the Incident Command System (ICS)

  • Discuss various threats (international and domestic terrorism), as well as active shooter scenarios

CERT members are also trained in life-saving skills with emphasis on decision-making ability, rescuer safety, and doing the greatest good for the greatest number.  Classes utilize classroom presentations, instructor-led discussions, and hands-on practical application of the skills discussed in the classroom.  


On occasion, CERT members can be called up to assist in areas outside of their communities if another community is in need and makes the request.  These typically include large-scale severe storms/tornadoes and missing persons type events.  Some CERT groups also support their local fire departments and cities by manning storm shelters, providing rehab to firefighters at a structure fire or hazardous materials call, or helping to staff first aid booths at special events.   

Who should take CERT training?

  • People interested in taking an active role in hometown preparedness

  • Neighborhood Watch groups

  • Community leaders

  • Parents

  • Students, teachers, administrators and school staff

  • Communities of faith

  • Scouting, Civil Air Patrol, and other similar youth organizations

  • Businesses

  • Members of clubs and civic organizations

Age and Other Restrictions:  Most CERT programs allow youth as young as 12 years old to participate, and there is no upper age limit.  Many CERT programs do require background checks in order to participate on a team due to the sensitive nature of the work being done around vulnerable populations.  If you have specific questions, please reach out to the CERT coordinator closest to you.

CERT Points of Contact are listed to the right.  If you don't see a CERT program near your town, please contact Chris Tate at the Jefferson County EMA ( – 205-254-2039) to learn about how to start up a CERT program in your area.  Jefferson County EMA assists with coordinating the program, however teams are typically managed by a citizen team leader within their respective community and a local governmental sponsor organization (typically fire or police department).

Points of Contact for CERT Programs in Jeffco:


Bessemer CERT

Capt. Carlton Jackson

205-428-5151 ext. 115

*This team is currently inactive, you may call and request additional info

Birmingham CERT

Lt. Darryl Lane


Concord CERT

Bill Wicks

Westside CERT

(Fairfield / West Jefferson areas)

Reginald Nall


VIc Ford

Fultondale CERT

Allen Thrush



Omar J. Benitez-Aulet


Irondale CERT

B. J. Colvin


McAdory CERT

Darrin Jarvis


Samford University CERT

Cindy Berry


Springville/Argo CERT

Janet McCown


Trussville CERT

Asst. Chief Keith McLaughlin


*This team is currently inactive, but you may call and request additional info

Vestavia Hills CERT

FF Trey VanHoser or


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