Vashon Community Emergency Response Team (CERT)

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, using the model created by the Los Angeles City Fire Department, began promoting nationwide use of the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) concept in 1994. Since then, CERTs have been established in hundreds of communities.

CERT training promotes a partnering effort between emergency services - Vashon Island Fire Rescue (VIFR) as well as the King County Sheriff - and the people that they serve. The goal is for emergency personnel to train community members in basic response skills including search and rescue, disaster response, first aid,

If a disastrous event overwhelms or delays the community’s professional response, CERT members can assist others by applying the basic response and organizational skills that they learned during training. These skills can help save lives following a disaster. CERT skills also apply to household and business emergencies.

CERT members maintain and refine their skills at periodic trainings.  Trainings include rehearsal of search procedures both in the outdoors and in buildings, hands-on practice of seldom-used but critical first aid skills, enrichment topics such as orienteering, map reading and HAM radio training, and many options for attending related trainings from the Red Cross and other organizations.

Training Curriculum

CERT training includes…

  1. The types of hazards most likely to affect their homes and communities
  2. Many possible roles for CERT teams
  3. Identify and reduce potential fire hazards in homes & workplaces.
  4. Basic fire suppression strategies, resources, and safety measures
  5. First aid including opening airways, controlling bleeding, and treating shock
  6. Conducting medical triage under simulated mass-casualty conditions.
  7. Perform head-to-toe assessments of injured persons
  8. Select and set up make-shift medical treatment areas
  9. First aid for wounds, burns, broken bones and other injuries
  10. Planning and size-up requirements for potential search and rescue situations
  11. Common techniques for searching a structure
  12. Safe techniques for moving debris to extricate a trapped person 
  13. Organizational and teamwork strategies for effective and safe CERT operation

CERT Class of May 2005
From left to right back row: Keith Putnam, Dennis Schroeder, Robert Powell, Reed Fitzpatrick, Lee Miller, Ed Steyh, Lisa Chambers, Richard Gordon, Michael Kibbe, Kebbie Bedard, Steve Bird, Diane Brenno, Robert Brenno. Front row: George Lewis, Matt Wilson, Gary Cain, Linda Higgenbotham, Mary Redick.

Vashon CERT TrainingSince the first Vashon Island class in 2005, over a dozen additional courses have been held with roughly 250 graduates.

CERT continues to offer the full course about once per year.  The course involves about 40 hours of training in the topics listed above, including a one-day wrap up with workshops and a simulated earthquake disaster response effort.  Instructors are professionals with Vashon Island Fire and Rescue, experienced CERT volunteers and specialists in selected topics such as fire and disaster medical.

The next full course starts February 26, 2016 and includes 8 consecutive Friday evenings from 6-10 p.m. plus one Sunday disaster simulation exercise from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.  All trainings are at the Farcy training center; pre-registration required; no fee but there are a few minor supplies each student should provide for him/herself (disposable gloves, dust mask, safety glasses and appropriate work clothing for practicing some skills outside).  As of now, the class is full, but a short waiting list is being kept.  Some of the waiting list people will likely be enrolled as others cancel.

About Vashon CERT

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Vashon CERT training prepares volunteers to act as ‘interim first responders’ in the event of a disaster and to conduct outdoor searches when a person is lost or missing.  During a household emergency, this training can provide families the knowledge they need until professional assistance arrives. During a larger disaster, this help may aid other families in the neighborhood or across the island when professionals are overloaded.

In addition to the FEMA training, Vashon CERT trains members in island-specific event response plans such as ferry shutdowns, wild fires, ice storms, outdoor searches, and general support of our local fire department when they are overloaded with emergency responses.  Vashon CERT also teaches participants specifically how to partner with other island-based emergency response organizations such as the amateur (Ham) radio operators (known collectively as the Auxiliary Communications Service) and the Emergency Operations Center.

Vashon Fire and Rescue is the official sponsor of Vashon CERT.  The department covers many of the cost of running trainings, provides the classroom and training facilities, and some professional staff support including advisors and trainers.  Puget Sound Energy and VashonBePrepared are both contributors to the direct costs of training and supplies for 2015. 

Contact Us

Jan Milligan, CERT Manager

A Part of CitizenCorps...

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CERT is one of the five volunteer programs coordinated by Citizen Corps. For more information about the national Citizen Corp CERT program go to