Community Emergency Response Team (CERT)

The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Program educates people about disaster preparedness for hazards that may impact their area and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations.

About CERT

A Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) is a ready force of organized and trained volunteer disaster workers that operates at the neighborhood level. After a disaster our first responders and other government service providers will be overwhelmed. Public services will not be able to deliver help everywhere that help will be needed. Experience has shown that in a disaster setting, ordinary citizens make over 80% of successful rescues as they respond to the emergency in their community. However, many untrained volunteer rescuers may actually cause harm or become injured in the process.

When a disaster strikes, CERT volunteers spring into action: they check on their families, they check on the neighbors, suppress small fires, conduct light urban search and rescue, and provide emergency medical aid and psychological comfort to their neighbors.

If we can predict that emergency services will not meet immediate needs following a major disaster, especially if there is little or no warning and people will spontaneously volunteer, what can the City of Southlake do to prepare citizens for this eventuality? Encourage our citizens to participate in the Southlake CERT training!!


The Community Emergency Response Team concept was developed and implemented by the Los Angeles City Fire Department (LAFD) in 1985. The training program that LAFD initiated made good sense and furthered the process of citizens understanding their responsibility in preparing for disaster. It also increased citizen’s ability to safely help themselves, their family and their neighbors. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recognized the importance of preparing citizens. The Emergency Management Institute (EMI) and the National Fire Academy adopted and expanded the CERT materials to apply them to all hazards and all locations.

The CERT course will benefit any citizen who takes it. This individual will be better prepared to respond to and cope with the aftermath of a disaster. These groups can provide immediate assistance to victims in their area, organize spontaneous volunteers who have not had the training, and collect disaster intelligence that will assist professional responders with prioritization and allocation of resources following a disaster. Since 1993 when this training was made available nationally by FEMA, communities in 28 States and Puerto Rico have conducted CERT training.

New CERT Member Training

The CERT course is delivered to the community by a team of Emergency Management, Fire, Police, and subject matter experts that have the knowledge and skills to instruct the sessions. The CERT training will be conducted over two Saturdays from 8:00-4:00 with a final exercise to wrap up the course and tie all of the training together. The following modules are taught in the CERT program:
  • Disaster Preparedness
  • Disaster Fire Suppression
  • Disaster Medical Operations
  • Light Search and Rescue
  • Disaster Psychology and Team Orientation
  • Live Disaster Simulation

What Will I Get Out of CERT?

CERT is about readiness, people helping people, rescuer safety, and doing the greatest good for the greatest number. CERT is a positive and realistic approach to emergency and disaster situations where citizens will be initially on their own and their actions can make a difference. Southlake CERT members are:

  • A group of people that is organized and receives special training that enhances their ability to recognize, respond to and recover from a major emergency or disaster situation.
  • Organized under the leadership of Southlake Department of Public Safety.
  • Trained by emergency responders and emergency management personnel in areas that will help them take care of themselves and others before, during and after a major emergency.
  • An organized team, providing vital services in the absence of emergency responders, whose arrival may be delayed due to the scope of the event.
  • Able to immediately assist those in distress, when a major emergency overwhelms normally available resources.

Training Announcement

The next CERT training class will be on April 18th from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and will cover Tactical Medical Training. This class will be hosted by the City of Southlake and taught by our partners at Northlake Community College. While this class is for CERT members, if you would like to attend or have additional questions, please contact Ben Williamson at 817-748-8624 or at

Exercise Announcement

The Southlake CERT program completed their first exercise for 2015 on Saturday, February 21st. At this time. the next CERT exercise has not been scheduled. Once exercise details are finalized for the next CERT exercise, this page will be updated.

If you are interested in attending or have additional questions, please contact Ben Williamson at 817-748-8624 or at

How Do I Sign-Up?

Classes are offered at least once a year for new members to attend the basic CERT training classes. Typically we hold these classes in the summer with signups starting in July and classes starting in August. The class is offered at no cost and there is no residency requirement. If you are interested in participating in the next class, please register at Volunteer Southlake. Please note that a background check is required for all Southlake volunteers, including CERT members.

You can also contact Emergency Management Coordinator Ben Williamson at 817-748-8624 or at to sign up. Space is limited, so sign up today!