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What is CERT?

Community Emergency Response Team

The idea for the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program originated during the late-1980s through the The Los Angeles Fire Department. Then in 1993, The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) made the program available across the country to help train citizens in disaster response skills. CERT members can assist their community during a major emergency when professional help is unavailable. The FEMA CERT Basic Training includes lessons in fire safety, disaster medical operations, light search and rescue, disaster triage and team organization.

CERTs can be found across the country, including at the county and city level, as well as on college and high school campuses. For a complete list of College Campus CERTs (C-CERT), view our C-CERT Directory. To find a CERT near you, visit FEMA's CERT Search.


The University of South Florida's CERT was established in 2013 as a program which is an adaptation of the above FEMA program, tailored to our campus and community. Our CERT program is operated by students, faculty, and staff at USF who receive both the CERT Basic Training as well as advanced training in specific areas to maximize our effectiveness.

USF CERT is a part of USF's Disaster and Humanitarian Relief (DAHR) Student Collaborative. DAHR provides members with a unique experience by combining opportunities in research, philanthropy, and hands on emergency preparedness under one organization. The mission of DAHR is to encourage students with similar interests to collaborate and work together to reach common goals through research and philanthropy. For more information on USF DAHR, visit USF Disaster Management's Facebook page. USF Students can view DAHR on BullsConnect by clicking here.


Fire Suppression

USF CERT Members are trained in fire science and suppression, giving them the knowledge and skills to classify and extinguish small fires in the absence of professional firefighters.

Search and Rescue

USF CERT Training includes techniques for organized search and rescue in lightly and moderately damaged structures. Proper training in search methodology, debris removal, victim location, and extraction can save lives during a disaster.

Medical Operations

USF CERT Members receive basic First Aid training which includes airway management, bleeding control, and more! After basic training, Team Members have the option to further their training and become a certified Emergency Medical Responder!

Disaster Psychology

USF CERT Training contains content on psychological effects of disasters on both responders and victims. Students learn how to approach and comfort survivors and manage stress as a responder. Opportunities are available for further emergency mental health training.

Advanced Training

USF CERT Members have access to advanced training offered by local, state, and federal levels of emergency management agencies. FEMA, the State of Florida, the American Red Cross, and other partner organizations offer our members many options for supplementary training in the field.

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