Community Emergency Response Team

Erie County’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program is designed to help communities prepare for and respond after catastrophic disasters such as tornadoes, ice or snow storms and other major emergencies. It is part of a national network of CERT communities.

In many communities, CERT is organized at a neighborhood level. In Erie County, however, CERT falls under the auspices of the Erie County Department of Public Safety’s Emergency Management division. Our dedicated CERT volunteers from around the county selflessly provide hundreds of hours of their time to train and exercise their skills to be ready at a moment’s notice should a disaster require their response.

After a disaster, citizens will often volunteer to help. But without proper training, these well-intentioned citizens can expose themselves to injury or even death. Experience has shown that basic training in disaster survival and rescue skills improves the ability of citizens to survive until responders or other assistance arrives. That’s where CERT comes in.

About Erie County CERT

Our CERT program is organized into four groups to support the disaster response and recovery needs of the entire county.

  • Medical Support Group: This group receives extra training in first aid and is responsible for deploying the county’s Mass Casualty Incident (MCI) trailer that is equipped to provide a surge capability to first responders during incidents where there are many injuries.
  • Logistics Support Group: This group helps ensure that the county’s cache of equipment and supplies are ready to deploy when needed.  This group also delivers equipment and supplies where needed and manages county stocks to ensure the most effective use of our limited resources.
  • Collapse Rescue/Haz-Mat Support Group: These volunteers take extra training in various aspects of collapse rescue and hazardous materials. They can assist first responders by assisting in searches, support cribbing and shoring operations, and assist the Erie County Hazardous Materials Response Team in “Cold Zone” (safe areas away from the hazardous materials) operations.
  • Emergency Operations Center (EOC)/Multi-Agency Coordination Center (MACC) Group: This group takes extra training in areas such as situational awareness, support operations planning, logistics and damage reporting to help assist in the coordination of the disaster response and recovery.  These group members normally assist in the county’s EOC/MACC, but are also available to assist cities, townships and boroughs should they need assistance.

CERT Training

CERT is open to anyone who is interested in helping his or her community prepare for a disaster and provide assistance afterward.  Team training is required.  You must be able to lift 70 pounds and have a driver’s license and a vehicle.

A CERT-trained individual is someone who has successfully completed the basic CERT course of instruction and exercise, which is about 22 hours of training.  Anyone 18 years of age in good health can take CERT training. All training and materials are free of charge. Training does not require you to join CERT.

For more information about CERT training, call 814-451-7920 or email

The basic CERT training course includes those components necessary to get the team started and become capable of performing basic CERT functions.  Classes will be scheduled to accommodate the team.  Team size will be no more than 15 citizens. Each member must complete four five-hour classes in the following areas to complete the training.

  • Disaster Preparedness: Instructs team members how to prepare themselves and their communities for the various hazards that may occur.
  • Team Organization and Disaster Psychology: Addresses organization and management principles necessary for a CERT to operate successfully. Covers critical incident stress for victims as well as workers.
  • Disaster Medical Operations: Teaches how to conduct triage, establish medical treatment areas and provide basic first aid/CPR for victims.
  • Damage Assessment: Instructs how to rapidly assess damage employing a standardized format.
  • Fire Safety: Teaches about fire chemistry, hazardous materials, fire suppression safety and firefighting resources.
  • Light Search and Rescue: Addresses light search and rescue planning, techniques and rescuer safety.

Some other courses that will be available are:

  • Terrorism Awareness
  • Communications