Community Emergency Response Team

join cert - banner (1).jpg

join cert - banner (1).jpg

What is CERT


  • A Community Emergency Response Team, or CERT, is a neighborhood-based team of volunteers who receive special training from professional responders to to recognize, respond to, and recover from major emergencies or disasters.
  • As an organized team, CERT volunteers can provide vital services while waiting for emergency responders to arrive.
  • CERT is also activated by the County to support major events requiring public safety and emergency management coordination, like the Marine Corps Marathon and July 4 celebrations.


CERT Information Request

Download Flier(PDF, 486KB)

In Arlington County

Emergencies like the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks showed how public safety resources could become overwhelmed in a major emergency. Trained, local volunteers are uniquely positioned to support County response efforts because they know the community so well and because of their specialized skills that allow them to respond to all hazards - from hazardous weather to acts of violence. Thus emerged the concept of the first all-disaster, neighborhood-based CERTs in northern Virginia.

The goal is to have a CERT in every Arlington neighborhood. Become a CERT Volunteer!

Volunteer Training

Anyone who spends time in Arlington may apply to attend CERT Basic Training.  Trainees become full CERT members after completing all class sessions and a drill/practical exam.

The next English-language class begins on September 7, 2022 and the next Spanish-language class begins October 12, 2022.

Basic Training consists of eight classes held over a six-week period, taught by local emergency response/management personnel. Each class is approximately two and a half hours and reading assignments are given at the end of each class. Practical, table-top and team-building exercises are also included in classes. Download an informational flier(PDF, 486KB).

Areas of training include:

  • Disaster Threats in Arlington County
  • Personal and Family Preparation and Safety
  • Recognizing and Treating Life-Threatening and Non-Life-Threatening Emergencies
  • Triage and Treatment Area Management
  • Incident Command System
  • Disaster Psychology
  • Fire Safety Techniques
  • Light Search and Rescue Operations

The final session includes a practical exam comprised of disaster simulations to give trainees the ability to apply their newly acquired skills in a semi-realistic environment. Continuing and advanced education is available for interested graduates.

CERTs can be created within already organized groups, including:

  • Neighborhood Groups
  • Civic Associations
  • Homeowner/Condo/Townhouse Associations
  • Business Groups
  • Neighborhood Watch organizations
  • Scouts
  • Faith-Based Groups

Arlington has trained several neighborhood teams and will continue building on that base. As new people are trained, they are referred to existing teams. As existing teams grow, they may choose to divide into smaller neighborhoods. 

Sign up!

Free ArlCERT Basic Training (CBT)

Training is required for all new CERT volunteers. 

Fall 2022 Class Schedule


Start Date

End Date 

CERT Basic Training Sept. 7  Oct. 1  View schedule(PDF, 184KB)
Capacitación Básica CERT (español) Oct.12  Nov. 5  Ver horario(PDF, 183KB)
Download flier(PDF, 486KB)

CERT Basic Training is delivered in English twice a year; a Spanish-language class is held once a year. Classes are held on Wednesdays and Saturdays for a total of eight sessions. Apply now.

The course is FREE and open to anyone on lives, works, attends school or a place of worship or volunteers extensively in Arlington County.

Sign up now to register for an ArlCERT course


CERT members will be asked to acquire supplies to be best prepared to volunteer. A supply list will be shard during the first Basic Training class and volunteer trainees should not purchase items before then. 

Questions? Email us at


Before an emergency, CERT members are expected to have an awareness of their own neighborhoods, and to predetermine possible evacuation sites that will facilitate effective, safe and rapid response to emergencies.

During a major emergency, where first responders are unable to respond immediately, CERT team members:

  • Assume a leadership role.
  • Assess situations and properly advise emergency responders when they arrive.
  • Recognize the potential hazards associated with a particular type of event and take appropriate action.
  • Take steps to get to safety and/or help others to do so in an organized fashion.
  • Help identify staging areas for operations and triage.
  • Help identify, organize and utilize local resources.
  • Assist others with the emotional distress associated with major emergencies and disaster conditions.
  • Administer first aid and/or triage casualties.
  • Perform needs assessments, document and communicate needs to local authorities.
  • Support effective and efficient allocation of emergency resources.


CERT members are activated by an authorized Arlington County agency.

Ongoing Participation

Those who complete the CERT training are expected to:

  • Help prepare individuals and organizations in the neighborhood to take care of themselves in the event of a disaster by providing or facilitating education about emergency preparedness
  • Be willing to help neighbors and the community in the event of a disaster, after assuring self and family safety
  • Seek out and take advantage of opportunities to enhance emergency preparedness and disaster skills
  • Be willing to participate in community events, drills and training others
  • Participate in periodic team meetings to organize and maintain activities
  • Review and adhere to CERT’s operating guidelines

Interested in joining CERT?

CERT Info Request 

CERT in Other Communities

CERT in Other Communities

Below is a selection of helpful CERT websites.


The Community Emergency Response Team concept was developed and implemented by the City of Los Angeles Fire Department in 1985. The department recognized that citizens would very likely be on their own during the early stages of a catastrophic disaster and that, with some basic training in disaster survival and rescue skills, they would be better able to survive and help others until responders or other assistance could arrive.

More recently, east coast cities have recognized the success of the CERT concept and have trained teams to meet local challenges. Many coastal communities, particularly in hurricane-prone areas, have already trained thousands of people. CERT training has proven so beneficial that the Federal Emergency Management Agency has recommended that CERT training be done nationwide. The Emergency Management Institute, in cooperation with the Los Angeles Fire Department, has expanded CERT materials and made them applicable for all contemporary hazards.