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) - and the people that they serve. The goal is for emergency personnel to train community members in basic response skills. CERT members are then integrated into the emergency response capability for their area.

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 and sustain lives following a disaster until help arrives. CERT skills also apply to daily emergencies.

CERT members maintain and refine their skills by participating in exercises and activities. They can attend supplemental training opportunities offered by the sponsoring agency and others that further their skills base. Finally, CERT members can volunteer for projects that improve community emergency preparedness.

CERT operates under VIFR's Operations Section during an emergency. When not activated, CERT works closely with all VashonBePrepared's various groups such as MRC, ARES, VEPC, and especially Vashon Island Fire & Rescue's professional staff and volunteers. During major events CERT may maintain command posts, co-located with the ARES LACCs.

For information on Vashon CERT, contact Vashon CERT Program Managers, Michael and Catherine Cochrane at 463-4558 or send an email to

Training Curriculum

CERT Training will teach participants to…

  1. Describe the types of hazards most likely to affect their homes and communities.
  2. Describe the function of CERT and their roles in immediate response.
  3. Identify and reduce potential fire hazards in their homes & workplaces.
  4. Work as a team to apply basic fire suppression strategies, resources, and safety measures to extinguish a burning liquid.
  5. Apply techniques for opening airways, controlling bleeding, and treating shock.
  6. Conduct triage under simulated conditions.
  7. Perform head-to-toe assessments.
  8. Select and set up a treatment area.
  9. Employ basic treatments for various wounds.
  10. Identify planning and size-up requirements for potential search and rescue situations.
  11. Describe the most common techniques for searching a structure.
  12. Use safe techniques for debris removal and victim extrication.
  13. Describe ways to protect rescuers during search and rescue.

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 our earliest classes in 2005, over half a dozen additional classes have been held with roughly 250 graduates! CERT continues to hold regular classes - typically about once a year currently.

CitizenCorps National CERT Program

CitizenCorps LogoThe 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.

Using the training learned in the classroom and during exercises, CERT members can assist others in their neighborhood or workplace following an event when professional responders are not immediately available to help.

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

About Vashon CERT

Vashon CERT Logo
Vashon CERT training prepares volunteers to act as ‘interim first responders’ in the event of a disaster. 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 or otherwise unable to provide their normal level of service.

In addition to the FEMA training, Vashon CERT trains members in Command and Control and communications. Also, CERT works with VIFR and VashonBePrepared to integrate CERT into the island-specific event response plans such as ferry shutdowns, wild fires and ice storms.

The Vashon program has been cited as a model for other programs and continues to conduct at least yearly trainings, with some 250 graduates having attended the training in the past decade. Graduates attend a quarterly skills training on a selected topic to refresh their skills - or learn of updated techniques.

CERT Training

CERT Training on vashon

For more information about Vashon CERT training and organization please contact the CERT Managers via email certvashon (at) yahoo (dot) com or call 206.463.4558 for program information.

Vashon CERTs train to a higher standard than most CERT programs, doubling the typical 20 hour coursework to complete a more rigourous, in-depth 40 hour, training session scheduled over 8 consecutive Fridays, from 6 to 10pm. Training concludes with a 8 hour, day-long drill typically held on Saturday.

This training is offered at no-cost to the participant. Participants are expected to supply some of their own equipment and supplies.

The following is an OLD recruitment poster, but you and your friends can join the fun March and April 2015 for the next CERT class. Watch this page and our blogs for any updates as details become available!

an old Vashon CERT Recruitment Poster