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Community Emergency Response Team

Benton County CERT Volunteers, report your hours HERE.

Origin of CERT

The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) concept was developed in 1985, after officials traveled to Japan to study their disaster response operations. They learned that Japan used extensive training programs to prepare individuals in basic emergency skills: light search and rescue, fire suppression, first aid, and evacuation. Later that same year, an 8.1-magnitude earthquake hit Mexico City and neighbors were the first to respond to those trapped and injured nearby. Volunteers are credited with saving more than 800 people. However, it is estimated that over 100 untrained volunteers died during the 15-day rescue operation due to lack of awareness of post-disaster hazards. 

These disasters showed the need to prepare individuals to safely provide assistance when professional emergency responders are overwhelmed. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) adopted CERT as a National program in 1993. There are approximately 2,700 CERT programs across the United States, and over 600,000 people have completed the training. 

In 2003, Benton County brought CERT to our community and has been leading the way for individual and community preparedness education for 20 years. The Benton County CERT program is one of 50 in the State of Oregon.

To learn more, click here.

The Benton County CERT Program

The Benton County CERT program is made of dedicated volunteers who train together, and serve together. With support from the Benton County Sheriff’s Office and Emergency Management, CERT is working to build a culture of individual & community preparedness. Volunteers learn what to do before, during, and after an emergency to safely assist themselves, loved ones, and neighborhoods. 

The goals of Benton County CERT are to address local hazards and provide education, training, and empowerment for individuals in emergency preparedness. Benton County CERT provides a safe, positive and inclusive experience for people of all abilities. Preparedness is a skill for everyone.

To learn more, click here.

The Benton County CERT program has a strong history of meaningful service across our broad community. During the pandemic, volunteers selflessly gave their time distributing PPE (masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, etc.) to hundreds of families. The team assisted in the organization of COVID vaccine sites, serving thousands of individuals. Volunteers with Benton County CERT rapidly filled the first critical shifts for human and animal evacuation shelters during the 2020 wildfires. During real-time incidents like the pandemic and wildfire evacuation, the contribution of volunteers demonstrates the strength of our community in times of need.  

Individual and Community Preparedness

The CERT curriculum is taught using a hybrid delivery. The online course is completed at your own pace, wherever you feel most comfortable. An in-person skills check weekend follows where participants get to put it all into practice. We do not test, but coach everyone through to gain confidence and ensure understanding in: 

  1. Disaster Preparedness 
  1. CERT Organization 
  1. Disaster Medical Operations – Part 1 
  1. Disaster Medical Operations – Part 2 
  1. Disaster Psychology 
  1. Fire Safety and Utility Controls 
  1. Light Search and Rescue Operations 
  1. Terrorism and CERT 
  1. Course Review and Disaster Simulation 

Upon completion of the course, you are invited to continue learning with us each month and participate in community engagements. We provide training to keep skills sharp and ensure readiness when called upon by the Benton County Emergency Manager.

To learn more, click here.

Independent Learning

Whether you’re already in a CERT program or want to learn more about becoming involved, the Emergency Management Institute (EMI) interactive web courses are free and available to anyone. 

FEMA Independent Study IS-317: Introduction to CERT – This Independent Study (IS) course is an introduction to the CERT program. 

FEMA Independent Study IS-315: CERT and the ICS – This course introduces CERT leaders to the Incident Command System (ICS), a proven management system used by emergency managers. 

Click on this link to see a video of CERT in Action

Contact Us

Please email us at cert@bentoncountyor.gov 

Benton County CERT Program Manager  

Ph: 541-766-6050 

Benton County Emergency Management Coordinator  

Ph: 541-760-2521 

Additional Resources

Benton County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO)

BCSO Emergency Management

Oregon Department of Emergency Management

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

General Preparedness

Benton County CERT Volunteers, report your hours HERE.

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