Basic CERT Course Training Materials

IS-317: Introduction to CERTs

"Introduction to Community Emergency Response Teams", IS-317, is an independent study course that serves as an introduction to CERT for those wanting to complete training or as a refresher for current team members. It has six modules with topics that include an Introduction to CERT, Fire Safety, Hazardous Material and Terrorist Incidents, Disaster Medical Operations, and Search and Rescue. It takes between six and eight hours to complete the course. Those who successfully finish it will receive a certificate of completion.

Click Here To Take The Course

Basic CERT Course Units

Click each unit title for access to the course PDF file for review.



Unit 1: Disaster Preparedness.

During this unit, participants discuss the different vulnerabilities that their community faces, actions that can be taken to prepare before a disaster occurs, and different laws that protect CERT volunteers.


Unit 2: Disaster Fire Suppression.

During this unit, participants will learn basic fire chemistry, hazardous materials, fire hazards, and fire suppression strategies. The main purpose of this session is to teach the participants the proper use of fire extinguishers and how to size up a scene to make sure it is safe to enter. In addition, they will learn the proper technique to turn off certain utilities.


Unit 3: Disaster Medical Operations I.

During this unit, participants learn about basic triage and rapid treatment techniques.


Unit 4: Disaster Medical Operations II.

During this unit, participants learn about head to toe assessments, setting up treatment areas, first aid, and how to deal with sanitary issues.


Unit 5: Light Search and Rescue.

During this unit, participants learn basic ways to carry victims, how to safely enter an area, rescue techniques, and how to keep themselves and others safe.


Unit 6: CERT Organization.

During this unit, participants learn in greater depth the organization of the CERT and the important of the incident command system (ICS).


Unit 7: Disaster Psychology.

During this unit, participants learn different critical signs related to mental health during and after an event.


Unit 8: Terrorism and CERT.

During this unit, participants learn their role in terroristic activity. They will also learn about the eight signs of terrorism and what they should and should not do in the case of a terrorist attack.


Unit 9: Course Review and Disaster Simulation.

During this until, participants have an opportunity to ask questions about the training and to review the material. In addition, they take part in a disaster simulation where they can apply the knowledge and experience gained through the training.



Unit 0: Hazardous Weather.

It is no coincidence that most of the disasters we encounter are weather-related, thus to further enhance the CERT education, this additional unit focusing on the basics of weather, severe weather origins and criteria has been added to the curriculum. Not found in the basic CERT Training Materials, CERT participants will receive PowerPoint notes to match the presented material for notetaking purposes. 

Supplemental Training Materials

The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program is continuing to develop supplemental material to provide additional training to its members. Below you will find some of the additional topics that are covered.

Animal Response I and II.

Animal Response I will teach CERT members emergency preparedness for animal owners and how to recognize specific animal behaviors.

Animal Response II will prepare CERT members for situations involving animals that they may encounter in performing their broader CERT response functions.

Search and Rescue Tutorial.

This tutorial allows CERT-trained individuals to review and refresh their skills in sizeup and search and rescue techniques. Teams can use the tutorial as a group refresher activity. Those who are not yet CERT members can also use the tutorial for background on the CERT basic training.

Hazard Annexes.

Additional information on the following hazards is optional.


Fires and Wildfires


Excessive Heat

Hurricanes and Coastal Storms

Landslides and Mudflows

Severe Thunderstorms




Winter Storms

Nuclear Power Plant Emergencies

Pandemic Influenza