Participant Manual

Reviewed / Updated: August 25, 2015


Note of Thanks

Team Duties

Program Background Coordinator/Steering Team
CERT Program Rules and Regulations Communications Team
CERT Actions in a Disaster Search and Rescue Team
Neighborhood CERT Structure Damage Assessment Team
The Incident Command System (ICS) First Aid, Medical & Psychological Support Team
CERT Application Form Special Needs, Sheltering, Supply Team
Memorandum of Understanding Safety and Utilities Team
  Logistics Officer


Damage Assessment Survey Message Form
Group Status Sheet Incident Status Board



Disasters are by nature sudden and unpredictable, it is therefore impossible to accurately forecast a disaster or its consequences. The County of Bertie has made reasonable efforts to ensure the accuracy of this book. The County of Bertie and its employees assume no responsibility for any injury or damage resulting from the use of this book or the products or methods recommended. The information provided is solely an attempt to educate the public on the subject of disaster preparedness and response. Users do so at their own risk. 


The County of Bertie expresses its sincere gratitude to its citizens, employees, and businesses who work together to make our community a better place to live.


Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) is a neighborhood-oriented approach to emergency preparedness.  It is based on the realization that a cooperative effort between a County and its Citizens is the only way to prepare for major disasters.

Major disasters stretch city responses to their limits.  It is estimated that regular emergency services will be unable to respond during the first 72 hours following a major disaster, such as a hurricane.  The number of people who need help, and the inaccessibility of many neighborhoods due to damage will prevent immediate aid.

If individuals and their neighborhoods are prepared to mutually assist each other during these critical hours, lives can be saved, property damage reduced, and emergency services can be freed to respond to the most devastated areas.

CERT�s overall purpose is to enable neighborhoods to be self-sufficient for a minimum of 72 hours following a major disaster.  This will be accomplished by:

  1. Organizing block groups into six disaster response teams: communications, damage assessment, first aid, safety & security, light search & rescue, and sheltering & special needs.
  2. Utilizing the skills and knowledge the neighborhood currently possesses.
While the overall purpose of the CERT program is to teach neighborhoods self sufficiency during times of disaster, preparedness efforts must also focus on individuals and families in their homes.  A county whose population is prepared at home will see a significant reduction in the need for police, fire, and ambulance support.  Citizens can act with coordinated efforts which will greatly enhance the efforts of emergency response agencies.

Program Background

CERT, (Community Emergency Response Teams), promotes a County/Citizen Bond as the only way to effectively manage and prepare for emergencies.  Neighbors, (both citizens and employees), helping neighbors has long been the foundation of our community and has lead to the unique relation our community has today.

CERT is an outgrowth of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Emergency Management Institute program-Community Emergency Response Team training and the North Carolina Division of Emergency Management.

The United States publishes the Federal Response Plan as its official plan of action in response to disasters.  In support of the Federal Response Plan the State of North Carolina publishes the Emergency Operations Plan which is supported by the Bertie County Emergency Operations Plan.

In 1989 Hurricane Hugo struck our area after traveling 200 miles inland and in 1997/1998 the area experienced the effects of extremely strong El Nino.  Studies conducted after Hurricane Hugo stated that �emergency plans must find ways to incorporate citizens, a tremendous resource, and find ways to increase citizen participation.  Neighborhood contacts or teams to help emergency response agencies were also recommended. In essence government must find ways to incorporate and to legitimize citizen involvement in emergency response.

A local result of this was the Community Emergency Response Team concept.  First established in Los Angeles, California, the concept has spread nationally.  Different geographic areas adopt the core of the program and make the appropriate changes to meet their needs as confirmed by their risk analysis.

In the County of Bertie, Community Emergency Response Teams are expected to be coordinated at the neighborhood or team level by a designated civilian team leader.  This team leader is selected by the members of the team and will act as the official liaison between the neighborhood CERT and the County of Bertie designated point of contact. The point of contact may be from the Fire Department, Police Department or other department as required at the time.

CERT courses will be offered to the citizens of the County of Bertie on a cost free basis.  Upon completion of the designated CERT program members will be issued CERT equipment by the County of Bertie.  This equipment will remain the property of the County of Bertie and is to be considered on �loan� to the CERT member.  If a member leaves the program it is their responsibility to turn in all issued City CERT equipment in good working order.  Equipment that is damaged in the course of normal CERT activities will not be held against the CERT member.

Nothing in this program will grant any citizen member of the CERT program any special authority to act as a Law Enforcement Officer, Fire Fighter, or Emergency Medical Service Personnel.

Current CERT personnel may be authorized to enter into restricted areas during a disaster upon presenting their County of Bertie issued CERT identification card.  Entry into such an area will be for official reasons and with the approval of Bertie County Emergency Response Personnel on the scene.  A CERT identification card is not intended to nor will be used as a free pass to enter into restricted areas if there is not a requirement for the services of that CERT member in the specific area.

The County of Bertie CERT program is designed as a pro active program in response to Federal, State, and local emergency response plans and as an efficient means of preparing citizens for disaster.

  1. YOU ARE NOT A POLICE OFFICER OR FIRE FIGHTER. You are simply an extension of the Fire and Police Departments response to a catastrophic disaster when exigent circumstances exist and when directed by policy or verbally directed to respond.
  2. YOU ARE FORBIDDEN TO CARRY GUNS, KNIVES, STICKS OR OTHER WEAPONS. You have been trained for immediate disaster response and there is no need, place or legal authorization for you to carry or use any of the above.  To do so will jeopardize your own safety and the continued existence of the CERT Program in the County of Bertie.
  3. YOUR FIRST RESPONSIBILITY IS TO YOURSELF AND YOUR FAMILY. When a disaster occurs your first responsibility is to ensure your own safety and the safety of your family.  You should not venture out on your own to start Search and Rescue Operations.
  4. CONTACT YOUR CERT LEADER. If a disaster occurs such as a Hurricane, Tornado, plane crash, etc..., after ensuring that you and your family are safe you should contact your CERT leader for additional instructions and directions.  Your CERT leader is your point of contact for Fire and Police Departments.  Do not attempt to contact the Fire or Police Department directly unless a life threatening emergency exists.
  5. IF YOU CANNOT REACH YOUR CERT LEADER. If you are unable to reach your CERT leader due to phone lines being out, power being out, etc., respond to your pre-designated rally point for your neighborhood CERT.  Only do this when it is safe to do so, do not leave a place of safety during a storm.
  6. BRING ALL OF YOUR ISSUED CERT GEAR. When functioning as a member of a Concord CERT team you should always have you issued CERT equipment with you and display your CERT identification card on the outside of your clothing.
  7. STAY WITHIN THE SCOPE OF YOUR TRAINING. You are required to always stay within the scope of your disaster training.  You have been trained based on the curriculum of the Federal Emergency Management Agency�s Community Emergency Response Team program.  You are expected and required to stay within the scope of your training and certification.
  8. STAY WITHIN YOUR LIMITATIONS. You are required and directed to stay within your limitations when responding as a member of a CERT team.  Limitations may be determined by, but not limited to, equipment available, physical abilities, knowledge, authority, etc.

The following will present the actions that should be taken by members of the County of Bertie Community Emergency Response Team Program in the event of a disaster.  Some of these items will vary with the Fire and Police Departments response to a catastrophic disaster when exigent circumstances exist and when directed by policy or verbally directed to respond.

  1. Ensure that you and your family are safe. This is your primary responsibility before attending to the needs of others and the community.
  2. Locate your CERT issued equipment. Keep this with you at all times.  All CERT equipment should be stored together in one place so that it can be easily located when an emergency occurs.  Remember that most disasters do not come with a warning.  You also need to occasionally check and/or restock your CERT equipment (batteries, food snacks, etc...).  Ensure that you have your CERT identification card with you.
  3. Contact your CERT Leader. Attempt to contact your designated CERT team leader for your neighborhood. If you can not contact the CERT leader attempt to contact other CERT members on your phone list.
  4. Follow the directions provided by the CERT Leader. If designated to contact other members then do so at this time. Be sure to pass on the information to them accurately as it was provided to you by your CERT team leader.
  5. If you can not reach your CERT leader. If you can not contact your CERT leader or other members of the CERT (phone lines out, power out, etc.) first check to ensure that it is safe to leave your residence.  If it is safe to travel then proceed directly to the pre-designated rally point for your team.  Each team will have a primary and secondary rally point designated.  If the primary location is not usable due to damage, flooding, etc., proceed to the secondary point and await the arrival of other members of the team.
  6. DO NOT start out on your own. The CERT program is a TEAM effort and is not intended to be performed as individual skill or activity.  This does not preclude the emergency assistance of a neighbor that is next door or across the street if health and safety are involved.
  7. Complete a Group Status Sheet. After the group is formed at the rally point, the CERT leader or designee will complete a Group Status Sheet, (see attachments) showing all CERT personnel that are present.  The team leader will then contact Bertie County Communications Center via telephone, (252-794-5330 or Bertie County Emergency Management @ 252-794- 5302 and advise:
  • CERT team name;
  • Name of team leader and call back number, (cellular, etc..);
  • Location of that the team has assembled;
  • Number of CERT personnel on scene;
  • Status of personnel on scene, (injuries, etc.);
  • Immediate threats to life or safety observed in the neighborhood.
  8. There is no telephone contact with Bertie Communications Center. Designate 2 members of the team to make contact with the Fire or Police Departments. This will be used only if contact has not been made by a Police or Fire Department representative at the designated rally point.  This should be done as a lost resort to make contact for further instructions. If this is done it will ALWAYS be done as a group using 2 able bodied members of the team.
  9. Conduct neighborhood survey. Conduct a neighborhood survey for damage, fires, emergencies, etc.

The following should be documented in writing using the provided CERT forms and then reported back to the Communications Center or Emergency Operations Center. The CERT will complete DAMAGE ASSESSMENT SURVEYS, (see attachments) for each assignment.  A written record must be kept of all activities. This form should be completed in duplicate to allow the team to keep a copy and a copy turned into the Emergency Management Representative for the County.

  10. Incident Status Record. This form should be completed for all activities when the team is in the response mode vs. the damage assessment mode (see attachments). This form should also be in duplicate.
  11. Document All Messages. All formal messages passed between the CERT and the Communications Center or the Emergency Operations Center should be documented on a Message Form, (see attachments). This allows for the verification and/or clarification of messages that are passed to and from the team in the field.  Messages may be passed in person, by land line telephone, cellular telephone, amateur radio, by CB radio or any other means required to pass the information along to the County.
  12. Track Personnel at All Times. It is the responsibility of the CERT Leader to keep track of his or her personnel at all times.  It is also the responsibility of the CERT team leader to ensure that the team takes appropriate rest breaks, receives proper nourishment and drinks enough fluids (alcoholic beverages are strictly forbidden) during a disaster response.
  13. Monitor for Incident Stress. CERT leaders should monitor their members for signs of Critical Incident Stress and should report the first indications of it to County Emergency Response Personnel.  If a member of the CERT starts to suffer from Critical Incident Stress Syndrome, the team member should be removed from the environment, assigned another member to monitor them, and allowed to relax.  This member is not to be placed back into the field until properly screened by a Fire/Rescue representative trained in CISD.

Neighborhood CERT Structure


The Incident Command System

Fire and law enforcement personnel to manage emergency operations use the Incident Command System.  It has been proven time and time again to be a dependable and efficient system of operations management.  CERT�s are part of the �Operations� function of the ICS, as shown in the figure below.  In a disaster situation, CERT�s may be working on their own for an indeterminable period of time until emergency units arrive.  Once they do start to arrive, CERT�s will work under the �Command� of the ranking officer and provide the information and manpower needed to stabilize the neighborhood.

The Incident Command Structure

�Operations� is one of four general functional areas that the Incident Commander uses to accomplish his goals; besides Operations there are Logistics, Planning and Administrative Coordinators that handle various aspects of the Incident.


A neighborhood planning group needs a coordinator, co-coordinators, or a steering committee.  Each of the response teams should have a leader and team members.  For each team and for coordinators, there should be established a progression of who will be in charge.  For example, if a particular team leader is not present, who should take their place after a disaster?

NOTE: If your neighborhood group is not large enough to have full teams, it should have, at a minimum, an overall coordinator and leaders for each team. 

Even if you never have enough active people to staff all the teams fully, keep your basic organization in place.  Experience has shown that after a disaster, people will want to pitch in, and you will have jobs to which they can be assigned.  Experience also suggests that not all team members will be there immediately after a disaster, so make sure you have identified a �line of succession� or know what jobs you can assign to other volunteers. 

Organizational structure has no magic formula.  An overly rigid structure can create problems for your group operations if you plan heavily for a specific disaster and another hits your neighborhood.  A flexible approach allows each group to determine how best to solve its problems and meet the needs of the neighborhood.

Neighbors Who Don�t Participate 

It would be ideal to have all households in the neighborhood in the preparedness groups before an event, because they will all be involved after the fact.  However, some people will avoid your group for various reasons:

Shyness and Timidity
Fear of letting others find out �Family Secrets�
Lack of time and energy
Misunderstanding your group�s goals and activities

Personal issues

What to do? 

Keep letting them know what your group is up to and when the next meeting is scheduled. 

Have various neighbors contact them to explore ways to draw them into participation. 

Always provide for them in your plans and for post-event activities. 

Above all make sure they know they are welcome and encourage them to learn family preparedness.



Primary Responsibilities

  • Provide overall coordination of the neighborhood plan before a disaster

  • Help the neighborhood teams complete their �Before� tasks

  • Set up CERT Command as a base of operations and information center for the neighborhood

  • Organize the CERT program in the neighborhood

  • Activate the neighborhood plan and deploy all Teams to respond to the disaster.


  • Invite each family in the neighborhood to participate in CERT.  Encourage them to serve on a committee;

  • See that every household, whether in the group or not, has a family disaster plan;

  • Have as many households as possible fill in a skills and resource inventory list;

  • Assign people to teams in which thy have an interest and expertise, and coordinate training and special needs;

  • Maintain a Special Needs List;

  • Plan and Schedule meetings;

  • Provide the Office of Emergency Management with an updated team roster after every change;

  • Work with team members to develop a neighborhood plan for disaster response;

  • Assure that every household has the OK/Help communications card.



  • TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF AND FAMILY FIRST.  Remember your safety is important.  Be alert, cautious and watch for hazards;

  • Dress appropriately for the weather and hazardous conditions;

  • Designate the neighborhood command center and begin gathering information;

  • Meet with team leaders as they show up and brief them as they start forming their teams;

  • Assign members and volunteers to Teams that are short of personnel;

  • Appoint a �Logistics Officer� to determine what resources are available and coordinate requests for usage;

  • Appoint someone to coordinate the paperwork you will need to properly document overall activity and damage reports;

  • Verify that all major problems are reported to the Emergency Management System;

  • Coordinate with Emergency Response Units when they arrive.  Once an emergency response official with the City/County arrives, he/she will take command or act as a liaison between you and the Emergency Management System;

  • Use your community map to indicate damage and other problems.


The individuals that choose to be in the CERT Command Center must be able to deal with numerous problems simultaneously. This is truly a job for the �strong at heart�. 

The best type of individual for this position is one that has some management experience, understands how to deal with the stress of handling multiple problems simultaneously and is able to prioritize those problems as to the importance of their solution. They must understand people and how they are treated under stressful conditions. The wrong person in this position can create havoc among the teams and a lack of organizational skills could defeat the intent of the CERT Command Center.


This team should try to become familiar with the type of rescue problems they may have to deal with.  The team must under that the safety of their members comes first.  Go to other team member�s home after the event and make sure there is not a rescue problem there.  As you move through the neighborhood determining rescue problems, you may be able to gather other volunteers to help with your duties or assign them to other teams.

Primary Responsibilities:
  • Searching each home to determine the well being of your neighbors;
  • Rescue those trapped or injured;
  • Help with transport of the seriously injured to the nearest treatment area.



  • Identify the kinds of rescue problems you could encounter in your area and equipment needed;

  • Practice search techniques, using the buddy system, in the dark or blindfolded.  Contact the Fire Department to use their training tower;

  • Set up exercises with your group that allow them to practice the various patient carries and the types of precautions to take when moving a victim;

  • Design an area map which sections the neighborhood into three or four areas to make it easier to systematically search the area;

  • Make a list of your neighbors so it can be determined if anyone is missing after a disaster;

  • Identify, collect and store tools that can be used to search homes and rescue anyone who may be trapped or injured, (e.g. crowbars/pry tools, cribbing, rope, chain saws, etc...);

  • Reinforce the building marking techniques you will use to show a house has been searched, what you found and where the utilities are located.



  • Take care of yourself and your family first, remember your safety is important, Be alert, cautious and watch for hazards;

  • Dress appropriately for the weather and hazardous conditions. Wear Protective clothing, sturdy shoes, leather gloves, hard hat, goggles and dust mask;

  • Report to the CERT Command Post and get your Team assignments and team mates from CERT Command;

  • Check each house in your assignment area.  Use a list of neighborhood residents to determine if anyone is missing, and talk to other people about their neighbors;

  • Check homes of anyone that is missing, any homes displaying a �HELP� sign, and homes not displaying an �OK� sign.

  • Do a preliminary damage assessment as you walk through the neighborhood if there are no Damage Assessment members available;

  • If your list shows a house with a Special Needs resident, meet �face to face� with that person and determine if special help is needed.  If so, notify CERT Command;


  • Keep a log of all homes searched.  Record the address, what you did or if was OK, the extent of damage, if any, and include the date and time of your actions;

  • Mark each building that has been searched so that it does not have to be repeated.


Guidelines for Search and Rescue
  1. Never conduct a search or rescue alone.  Work with a partner, plan the search, and do not wander aimlessly.
  2. Size up each house before taking any action.  Look for Help or Ok signs.  Then, knock on the door, if no one answers, conduct a perimeter search to see if the occupant is available and to try and determine what you may be facing when you must make entry.
  3. Feel the top and bottom of the door before you enter a structure with the back of you hand.  IF IT IS HOT, DO NOT ENTER!!  If it is cool, cautiously open the door.  Repeat this process every time you encounter a closed door.
  4. If the door cannot be opened due to damage, determine if there is a safe alternative to making entry or if entry is even an option.
  5. While still in the doorway, call out loudly, �Is anyone here?�  Listen for a response.  If you don�t get an answer, shout, �Rescue Team! - Is anyone here?�  Repeatedly as you move through the structure.  A frightened occupant may be armed and waiting.  If you know the occupant�s name, use it when you call.  Listen carefully between your calls for the sound of crying, moaning, thumping, banging or other noises that may indicate that someone needs help.  If someone does answer you, ask them to tell you where they are and what type of help they need.
  6. Be very aware of signs that a dog may be in the structure; food and water dishes, bed, rubber toys, and of course barking or growling.  A residence with a large dog may have to be left to emergency responders before a search can be attempted.  Treat this as you would a structure with �Heavy Damage�, and write �DO NOT ENTER - LARGE DOG� on the most obvious surface.
  7. Smell for smoke, gas or electrical odor.  If you smell gas DO NOT ENTER!!  Open as many windows and doors as you can without going inside.  Locate the gas meter and turn it off, then wait until you no longer detect the odor before entering.  If you smell smoke or electrical odor, be extremely careful if you choose to continue your search.  Opening the door to a room full of smoke can cause a phenomenon known as a �back draft� where a smoldering fire inside finally gets the air it needs and explodes in flames due to the amount of carbon monoxide in the room.
  8. Once you determine to search the interior, Mark the door or outside wall most easily seen from the street with a \ to show that a search is in progress.
  9. Once inside of the structure, constantly look around and above you for potential hazards including broken glass on the floor.  Stay low and constantly communicate with your teammates.  Systematically search each room and pay special attention to �hiding places� under beds, inside closets, under stairs, and inside bathtubs and showers.
  10. If it is dark when you are performing your search, use your flashlight to �sweep� each room before you enter.  This will prevent you from encountering hazards like holes, fallen beams or fixtures, and glass.  If it is dark and you have no flashlight, only search the structure if you know for a fact that someone is in distress inside.  Then you need to use a �left or right hand wall search� WITH A PARTNER, and you should have a rope tied to one of you with a �Sentry� at the nearest exterior door holding the other end.  In the absence of a Sentry, tie the rope to something just outside the door; this way a passing Team may be able to see what is happening and stop to help.  If you don�t have a rope and/or a partner, it is not recommended that you enter the structure at all - GET HELP!
  11. If you find a victim, determine, to the best of your ability, the nature of their injuries.  If no spinal injuries are evident, move the victim to the first aid providers for assessment.
  12. When you have done your search, don�t forget to draw another diagonal line which crosses the previous line you drew, creating an X on the front of the structure, and make any other appropriate notifications there.  Document your actions and move on.  When marking a property, use common sense about what you use.  A can of red spray paint on a house with no damage is not going to make the owner very happy when they return, use chalk or some other writing instrument that can be washed off with soap and water.  It won�t make a lot of difference what is used on a heavily damaged structure.
Rescuer Safety

If a rescue attempt appears to be or is obviously beyond your physical capacity or skill - DON�T DO IT!!  You can seriously injure yourself, or worse, put other rescuers at unnecessary risk.  The question to ask is always �Is it safe for CERT members to attempt this rescue?�  Answers to this question relate primarily to the degree of structural damage, as shown in the following table:


Degree Of Damage


Should Rescue be Attempted




NO.  Too dangerous to enter.  Secure the perimeter and control access to the structure.




Perform only quick and safe removals; limit on site medical to breathing, major bleeding, and treating for shock.  Minimize the number of rescuers inside the structure.




Yes.  Locate, triage, and prioritize removal of victims to the designated treatment area.


REMEMBER: There is no golden rule for risking your life to rescue others.  If your attempts are obviously beyond your physical capacity or skill, you may lose your life, and endanger others coming to your aid.  SOMETIMES IT TAKES WISDOM AND COURAGE TO WAIT FOR HELP.


Primary responsibilities:
  • Set up a first aid station in the neighborhood;
  • Provide physical and psychological first aid to neighbors who need it;
  • Identify neighbors who need professional medical care;
  • Identify, collect and store basic and creative first aid supplies for the neighborhood.


  • Identify, collect and store basic and creative first aid supplies for the neighborhood

  • Identify two neighborhood locations that could be used as first aid stations

  • Identify the nearest medical facility to your neighborhood

  • Identify neighbors who have first aid, CPR or other medical training and skills

  • Work with the Special Needs Team to identify neighbors who have special medical needs and record this.

  • Develop a strategy of interacting with other committees and prioritizing disaster response activities.



  • Take care of yourself and family first.  Remember your safety is important.  Be alert, cautious and watch for hazards.

  • Dress appropriately for the weather and hazardous conditions.  Wear Protective clothing, sturdy shoes, leather gloves, hard hat, goggles and dust mask.

  • Report to the CERT Command Post and get your Team assignment and team mates from CERT Command

  • Set up a Medical Treatment area near the Command Post to treat �walking wounded that are attracted by the activity.  Establish an area, possibly in someone�s home, to treat psychological victims. It should a place that is quiet and out of the weather.

  • Medical teams should work in the same area as the Light Search and Rescue Teams, and set up centrally located, �Immediate�, and �Delayed� treatment areas where appropriate.

  • Wash hands before and after giving care.  Wear latex or rubber gloves when treating anyone who is bleeding.

  • Find and treat injured people in your assignment area.  If someone is seriously injured, determine if there is a nearby hospital that is functional and if transport there is possible.  If none is available, call for someone with more medical training than you through the Communications Team.

  • Care for any victims with Special Needs or notify CERT Command that you need �Special Needs Team� if one is available.

  • Keep a log of all people treated.  Record their name, address, what you did, what was their response to treatment and include the date and time of your activities.

  • Communicate all information to CERT Command ASAP.


Psychological First Aid

Individuals often exhibit unusual behavioral and emotional responses following a disaster.  Some symptoms are: fear, powerlessness, fatigue, irritability, sleeplessness and hyperactivity.

Regardless of age, people have a need to retell an upsetting or dangerous incident in great detail to anyone who will listen.  Allowing those who have survived a disaster to retell their stories helps them to regain a sense of control. 

Adults and children need to recount the disaster from their viewpoint.  When this happens, listen carefully.  Pay attention to the person�s words, actions and facial expressions. 

Most people are fearful when they do not understand what is happening around them.  Every effort should be made to keep them accurately informed.  This helps to relieve anxiety. 

Everyone should be encouraged to participate in the neighborhood recovery effort.  Giving a person a simple task to do help eliminate powerless feelings.
Primary Responsibilities
  • Using a neighborhood map, check and if necessary, shut off the gas, electricity and water at each house in the neighborhood.
  • Identify and rope off hazardous areas.
  • Confine stray pets.
  • Remove debris from the street so emergency vehicles can drive through the area.
  • Coordinate the evacuation of the neighborhood when necessary.


  • Design a neighborhood map that identifies the location of each home�s utilities (gas meter, electrical circuit box, fuse box, and water valve).  Divide the street into three or four sections to make it easier to systematically check each home.

  • Collect and store tools in the neighborhood that can be used to turn off utilities, (e.g.,crescent wrench, utility tool).

  • Test all gas and water valves in the neighborhood to make sure they are not frozen or shut.

  • Draw a map indicating the best evacuation route(s) for your neighborhood and the quickest route to the nearest school and fire station. Share the map with your neighbors.

  • Develop a strategy of interacting with the other Teams and prioritizing disaster response activities.



  • Take care of yourself and family first.  Remember your safety is important.  Be alert, cautious and watch for hazards.

  • Dress appropriately for the weather and hazardous conditions.  Wear Protective clothing, sturdy shoes, goggles, dust mask and latex or rubber gloves.

  • Report to the CERT Command Post and get your Team assignment and team mates from CERT Command.

  • The Safety & Utilities Teams should work in advance of/or with the Rescue Teams, and assist them in determining whether a structure is safe to enter.

  • Identify structures with safety problems and mitigate those problems where appropriate.

  • Rope off and/or mark all hazards such as downed power lines, fallen trees, etc.

  • Extinguish small fires where necessary.

  • Keep a log of all hazards encountered and structures inspected. Record the address, the hazard, if any, your actions, and include the date and time of your actions.

  • Do Primary Damage Assessment as you work your way through the neighborhood.

  • Caution residents about re-entering damaged homes or homes where some other hazard makes them unsafe.

  • Communicate all information to CERT Command ASAP.


The long term function of this team will be to constantly monitor the neighborhood for actual or potential hazards; and to properly mark and/or otherwise warn the residents in the area. 

Yellow or �Day-Glo� survey tape is a good tool for team members to have available to �rope off areas that are hazardous.  People that are still in shock from the event will not pay attention, or may not recognize otherwise obvious safety hazards.  Consider using a wheelbarrow to transport your heavier equipment, such as extinguishers, chain saws, etc... 

If you must fight a fire, and it is small, call for help and fight it.  If, however, the fire is large, or �gas fed�, evacuate the structure and close all doors.  If the phones are still working try to call 911, but in any case, make sure CERT Command is made aware of the problem.  UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHOULD ANYONE ENTER A BURNING BUILDING TO SAVE PROPERTY OR PETS.
Strategies for Damaged Structures






Heavy to Total


Superficial damage, broken windows, fallen plaster, garage door intact, less than 50% of shingles/roofing material gone.


Structural stability questionable, roof panels missing, garage door damaged some windows out of frames, obvious interior damage.


Partial or total collapse of walls and/or roof, trees through roofs, garage door blown out, obvious structural instability.


1:        Secure building utilities, (as needed)

2:        Establish and coordinate Search & Rescue teams with medical triage personnel

3:        Establish �T� and �D� treatment areas

4:        PRIMARY MISSION: Locate, triage, and prioritize removal of victims to treatment area.

5:        Continue evacuation process until all victims are removed and accounted for.

6.        Constantly re-assess structural stability

7:        Gather Team members afterward and account for all


1.        Secure building utilities, (as needed)

2:        Gather information, (victim locations)

3:        Establish �Sentry� at exit and entry points.

4:        Establish and coordinate two and four person rescue teams.

5:        PRIMARY MISSION: Locate, stabilize, and immediately evacuate victims to a safe area while minimizing the numbers of rescuers inside.

6.        Perform triage and medical care in safe area.

7.        Continue rescue efforts until complete or unsafe.

8.        Continue re-assessment of structural stability

9.        Communicate and document location of heavily trapped or deceased victims


1.        Communicate the location and extent of damage to CERT command or on-scene emergency personnel

2.        Secure building perimeter and control access to the structure.

3.        Determine if it is safe to shut down utilities from outside the structure

4.        Gather information from witnesses or survivors to determine possibility of victims inside.


All three of the Previous Teams, (Rescue, Medical, and Safety) will often be involved together in the initial search and rescue effort, so having �Suggested Operating Procedures� in place prior to an event will make it a safer scene for to work on. 

Team members need to know their specific duties on a rescue scene.  It can�t be stressed enough how important it is to train as teams on a regular basis to insure that each member understands their job under emergency conditions.  Fire Department EMT�S and Paramedics train regularly for situations exactly like this because their need for efficient teamwork is critical on a daily basis. 

The following chart will give you an idea of the involvement of various CERT operations for each level of damage:










Safety/Fire Team


- Utilities as needed

- Document


- Utilities

- Small fires to save lives

- Document


- Utilities from exterior

- Document


Search/Rescue Team


- Locate

- Triage

- Tag

- Continue Size-up

- Document


- Locate

- Stabilize(triage)

- Evacuate

- Control Perimeter

- Continue Size-up

- Document


- Secure perimeter

- Gather information

- Document


Medical Team


- Triage again

- Head to toe in place

- Treatment in place

- Transport when necessary

- Document


- Triage again/safe zone

- Head to Toe/safe zone

- Tag

- Treatment

- Transport

- Document








Treatment Area Team


- Triage again

- Head to toe

- Treatment

- Document


- Triage again

- Head to toe

- Treatment

- Document




Use this chart as the basis for some of your training exercises when your group gets together.  The items here aren�t all that someone should expect to face, but it will give you guidelines to work from and goals to strive for. 

The need to coordinate team work can�t be stressed enough, so whenever you have the opportunity to train - do so.  Structure your exercises so that several things are going on simultaneously, this makes the sessions much more interesting and fruitful. 

If someone in our neighborhood is good with woodworking, have them fashion some �Backboards� with handholds.  These are what firefighters use to move victims to safe treatment areas, and they are good for preventing movement of the spinal column when neck or spinal trauma is suspected.

Primary Responsibilities
  • Ensure that children, elderly and disabled persons have pre-arranged caretakers.
  • Set up a child/adult care center in the neighborhood.
  • Learn the locations of the fire stations and schools in your area.
  • Identify other public shelter locations to help neighbors who are displaced and need shelter.


  • Identify and list children who may be home alone at certain times of the day and elderly and disabled who may need assistance immediately after a disaster.  Share this information with the CERT Coordinator.

  • Coordinate with the First Aid Team prior to gathering special needs information from your neighbors.

  • Plan neighborhood activities that enable committee members to meet and establish a rapport with the children, elderly and disabled.

  • Identify two locations as possible neighborhood child/care centers.

  • Identify potential sources of food/water near your neighborhood.

  • Equip the child/adult care centers with supplies that will comfort them and help them participate in the recovery effort.

  • Become acquainted with the psychological needs of children, elderly and the disabled.

  • Develop a strategy for interacting with other CERT Teams and prioritizing disaster response activities.



  • Take care of yourself and your family first.  Remember, your safety is important.  Be alert, cautious and watch for hazards.

  • Dress appropriately for the weather and hazardous conditions.  Wear protective clothing, sturdy shoes, goggles, dust mask and latex or rubber gloves.

  • Report to the CERT Command Post and get your Team assignment and team mates from CERT Command.

  • Establish the shelters.  Post Shelter signs.  Determine where �Special Needs� victims will be staged if they can�t stay in their homes or have been brought in from outside of the neighborhood. Determine what is going to be done to help solve their problems.

  • Keep a Team member at the CERT Command Post so you can be aware of incoming  victims.  If you have a problem dealing with a patient, call for someone with more medical training than you or try to get help from emergency services.

  • Send Team members to systematically check those people on your list of �Special Needs�, determine their status, take appropriate action, and document.

  • Post Regular reports of local availability of ice, water, and food on a bulletin board or other location near the Command Post.

  • Designate and stock a food and water storage location and enlist the help of volunteers to man it and prepare to supply those in need.

  • Keep a log of all people contacted or treated.  Record their name, address, what you did, what was their response to treatment and include the date and time of your actions.

  • Communicate all information to CERT Command.


Keep in mind that you could have any number of people look to you for help, many that you weren�t aware of, but you can only really prepare for the ones you know about.  Dealing with the others will take patience and common sense. 

People that show up unannounced may have the solutions to their problems with them; they just may need some help. 

Find out if any patients might have a relative that if notified would be able to come get them within a reasonable time period. 

This may be a poplar group with everyone.  Make sure this Team is fully staffed; their workload will be longer in duration than some of the others.  If a disaster affects a large enough area and it is several days before things stabilize, this Team could find themselves working day and night helping those who didn�t prepare. 

Find out as soon as you can what local, (outside neighborhood), sources of food, water and shelter is available.  Post this information prominently and keep your Team members informed.  No matter how much you have planned to store for emergency purposes, the speed with which things disappear will amaze you. 

Make sure you �squirrel away� plenty of resources for your Teams; it�s hard to get people to work without food and water.  Stay aware of the fact that some people have no scruples and will tell you anything to get a free meal at someone else�s expense and trouble.
Psychological Needs of Children, Elderly and Disabled.

The young, elderly and disabled can easily be overwhelmed by a disaster and may experience difficulty in coping with the situation and their feelings.  You can help them by talking openly about what has happened and how you feel about it. 

Encourage them to speak freely about whatever is on their minds.  Be careful not to argue with them, or tell them how they should feel. 

Express you confidence in your ability to help them.  Reassure them that the recovery process is underway. 

Encourage them to participate in the rebuilding efforts, and explain that as they contribute their skills to the neighborhood, life will return to normal.


Primary Responsibilities:
  • Provide communications of the CERT Teams.
  • Establish a communications link with the City�s / County's Emergency Operations Center
  • Monitor local radio and television stations, and share the emergency information with the neighborhood.
  • Record information pertaining to the disaster on the neighborhood status board.


  • Identify the closest fire station and disaster shelter to your neighborhood

  • Visit these locations and become familiar with them

  • Identify communications resources in your neighborhood, (cellular phones, HAM Radio Operators, citizen band radios, children�s walkie talkies, etc.)

  • Develop a strategy for interacting with other CERT teams and prioritizing disaster response activities.



  • Take care of yourself and your family first.  Remember, your safety is important.  Be alert, cautious and watch for hazards.

  • Dress appropriately for the weather and hazardous conditions.  Wear protective clothing, sturdy shoes, goggles, dust mask and latex or rubber gloves.

  • Report to the CERT Command Post and get your Team assignment and team mates from CERT Command.

  • Assemble your Communications Team ASAP to determine communications options available to the group.

  • Appoint a �Runner Coordinator� to act as the contact for runners between field teams and the Command Post.  Also have them determine who has bicycles, motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles, or other means of transportation for communication purposes.

  • Study maps and/or reports of injury and damage as they come in so that this information can be passed on to the City Emergency Operations Center.

  • Monitor TV and radio broadcasts for information about the disaster and the status of local hospital, shelters, roads, and other important details.

  • Post regular reports of important developments on a bulletin board or other location near the CERT Command Post.

  • Report all major problems to the City Emergency Operations Center.

  • Coordinate with Emergency Response Units when they arrive.


This is a critical Team.  Communications is one thing most disaster victims are lacking after an event.  Those assigned to this Team need to identify beforehand all the forms of communications they will have to consider.  If CERT Command is the focal point of activity, then determine ahead of time who would want to get information form Command and who would Command need to contact.  Some of these contacts might be:
  • Bertie County Emergency Operations Center/ Responding Fire and Rescue
  • Local or out of town relatives of your neighbors
  • People in the neighborhood that want to know the status of things
  • Disaster Assistance Coordinators trying to determine the level of need in your area
  • Field Teams, Treatments Areas, Transport locations, etc..
  • Local News and Emergency Broadcast Bands
  • HAM and CB Operators
Primary Responsibilities:
  • Conduct a preliminary and detailed damage assessment survey of the neighborhood.
  • Give these damage assessment surveys to CERT Command.
  • Advise neighbors to keep written records, photographs and a video of the contents of their homes.


  • Become familiar with the Damage Assessment Key and forms.

  • Design a map and divide the street into three or four sections to quickly assess the damage in the neighborhood.

  • Encourage your neighbors to place two copies of their important documents, (an inventory list of household contents, tax records, insure policies, journals, etc.), in a safe place. These documents will be needed to complete insurance claims and disaster assistant forms.

  • Identify, collect and store necessary supplies to complete preliminary and detailed damage assessment surveys.

  • Develop a strategy for interacting with other CERT Teams and prioritizing response activities.



  • Take care of yourself and your family first.  Remember, your safety is important.  Be alert, cautious and watch for hazards.

  • Dress appropriately for the weather and hazardous conditions.  Wear protective clothing, sturdy shoes, goggles, dust mask and latex or rubber gloves.

  • Report to the CERT Command Post and get your Team assignment and team mates from CERT Command.

  • Check each house in your assigned area.

  • Do Preliminary Damage Assessment as you work through the neighborhood.  Indicate the number of problems you find and make any necessary notes of other storm related damage you find in the area.  Get this information to CERT Command and the Communications Team ASAP.

  • Keep a log of all homes you find damaged during the Preliminary Damage Assessment.  Record the address, the extent of damage, and include the date and time. These properties will need a Secondary Assessment.

  • Report uninhabitable dwellings to the Shelter Team.

  • Urge all neighbors to inventory their losses and photograph damage; both for insurance claims and disaster assistance claims.  Remind everybody to keep receipts of any repair material purchased.

  • Find out where Disaster Assistance Centers, (DACs), will be located and inform neighbors.

  • Communicate all information to CERT Command ASAP.



If you are a member of this Team, work with members of the Safety Team to determine problems that your neighborhood is vulnerable to in advance of an event.  If you have a good number of large trees, where will they fall?  If you have a lake, creek or stream, close by, will it create a flooding problem?  Where will power lines likely end up after high winds or ice storms?  Do you have businesses near you that deal in or store hazardous materials?

Find someone in your neighborhood that knows insurance; they can become the local specialist on what you can do before and what to do after damage is done.  Find someone that understands construction and repair.  They may be able to give classes or prepare checklists on assessing damage or strengthening homes.  Try to get your Team members to understand damage assessment and the mitigation efforts that can be accomplished prior to an event.

Preliminary Damage Survey Form
Team Leader / Members  
Date   Start Time   End Time  

Neighborhood or Streets Reported

Total Number

Type of Damage / Problem

  Small fires
  Large fires
  Gas leaks
  Broken/Damage Water Lines
  Broken/Damage Water Mains
  Power Lines Down on Houses
  Power Lines Down on Street
  Trees on Houses
  Trees Blocking Street
  Other Items Blocking Street
  Light Damage
  Moderate Damage
  Heavy Damage
  Total Destruction
  Flooded Streets
  Flooded Houses
  OK Signs
  No Signs





Primary Responsibilities:
  • Manage resources available in the neighborhood and Coordinate communications with the outside world.
  • Coordinates efforts of Communication Team, Special Needs, Sheltering, and Supply Team.
  • Be familiar with duties of CERT Command.


  • Be prepared to fill in for CERT COMMAND

  • Identify and be familiar with resources available to the neighborhood/CERT.

  • Be familiar with the Incident Command System.

  • Be able to prioritize request for resources and ways of communicating with the outside world.



  • Take care of yourself and your family first.  Remember, your safety is important.  Be alert, cautious and watch for hazards.

  • Dress appropriately for the weather and hazardous conditions.  Wear protective clothing, sturdy shoes, goggles, dust mask and latex or rubber gloves.

  • Report to the CERT Command Post and get your Team assignment and team mates from CERT Command.

  • Meet with Communications to start coordinating activities.

  • Meet with Special Needs/Sheltering/and Supply to start coordinating activities.

  • Appoint a �Staging Area� Officer to coordinate volunteers and Team members that arrive late, identify a Staging Area.

  • Document the status of each team and what they report.

  • Appoint a �Message System Coordinator� to keep track of reports that come in and know what tasks have been completed and what remains to be done.

  • Report all major problems to CERT Command or the Emergency Management System.

  • Coordinate with Emergency Response Units when they arrive.


The logistics officer will coordinate several �Support� Teams and must possess many of the same qualities required of the CERT Leader.  The primary objective of this position is to supply teams with �Resources� and coordinate communications to the �outside world".
The Big Picture

Your CERT is intended to be able to operate in such a way that your CERT Leader would be able to describe to Emergency Management the condition of your area of responsibility and the people within it.  The system just described may appear overwhelming at first glance, but the longer your area is without aid from the �outside�, the more this structure will have to be developed.

The important thing to remember is that you need leadership with a plan in order to make it through the first few days of a real disaster.  Without it, you will be at the mercy of the situation and all that comes with it.

Attachment 1

Last Name, First Name, MI:  
Address   Telephone Number  
DOB   Social Security #   Race   Sex  
Drivers License #   Issued   Expires  
Name of Neighborhood / Subdivision / Business  
Crime Watch Member?   Where?  
CPR Course?   When? First Aid? When?  
Do you have disaster related experience? List if yes.  
Are you an Amateur Radio Operator?   Call Sign   Class  
SKILLS (list any specialized skills you may have, i.e., MD, DVM, RN, LPN, Paramedic, EMT, etc)


Are you physically fit to participate in this program?    

CERT Team Assigned to   Date:  
CERT Course completed   Date:  
CERT Equipment Issued   By:  


Attachment 1A 





I ________________________________ have completed the County of Bertie training for Community Emergency Response Teams.  I understand that as a member of a Community Emergency Response Team that my role in Emergency Response is limited to those actions in response to a bonafide emergency and under the policies of the Bertie County CERT program.  I understand that I am responsible for all equipment that is issued to me and that the equipment is the property of the County of Bertie.  I further understand that if I leave the County of Bertie CERT program that I will be expected to turn in all equipment issued in good working condition. 

I understand that as a member of a CERT. my responsibilities are to myself, my family, my neighbors and then to the surrounding neighborhood as directed by the CERT leader or designated point of contact from the Police or Fire Department. 









Signature                                              Date                 Printed Name










Bertie CERT Program Representative





Documentation is vital to the overall success of the recovery effort.  There are two basic categories of documentation that CERT will use.

  • Response Teams and their functional groups are responsible for providing CERT Command with ongoing information about group status, damage assessment, and ongoing needs.

  • CERT Command is responsible for documenting situation status, including incident locations, support locations, access routes, and identified hazards.  This information is essential for tracking the overall situation. As information becomes available in the EOC from CERTs, emergency management officials can begin to get a �feel� for the damage caused by the event.

Forms for Documentation






Preliminary Damage Survey


                   Completed by Damage Assessment Team

- Count the number of problems found


Damage Assessment Survey


                   Completed by field Team Leaders.  Provides summary of overall hazards in specific areas, including:

- Fires

- Utility Hazards, Flooding

- Structural Damage

- Injuries and casualties

- Available access

                   Essential for CERT Command to prioritize and formulate action plans.


Group Status Sheet


                   Completed by field Team Leaders.  Used for:

- Tracking personnel assigned to Team

- Monitoring Team accountability


Message Form


                   Used for sending messages between CERT Command and field Teams.  Should be clear and concise and address key issues such as:

- Assignment complete or reason otherwise

- Additional resources required

- Special information

- Status Update


Incident Status Board


                   Used by CERT Command to keep abreast of overall situation



Page # Person Reporting: Date Report:  
  Person Receiving: Time:  


Time Location Fires Burning / Out Gas Leaks Water Leaks Electrical Chemical
Local Structures People Roads


Damaged Destroyed Injured Trapped Dead Access No Access


This form will give CERT Command and eventually the Emergency Operations Center a �Snapshot� of the damage the Teams encounter as they move through their assigned areas.  The form should be sent back to CERT Command after each street is checked.  If there are more houses on the street than on the form, then make sure it is noted that there is more than one sheet attached.  The picture that CERT Command can help the County of Bertie formulate with this information will be extremely valuable in the recovery process.


Team   Assignment  
Leader   Asst. Leader  
Resources Start time Incident Number Assignment End Time Remarks
Team #          


Resources Start time Incident Number Assignment End Time Remarks
Team #          


Resources Start time Incident Number Assignment End Time Remarks
Team #          




If you are a Team Leader and have more than one team to coordinate, assign and indicate the Team Number of each Team under your command.  If you only have three or four people to work with, use the form to keep track of each new assignment.
To:   From:   Time:  


Incident #.  



Message Text:





Action Taken:





Incident # Time Address / Location Fire SAR Medical End Time



Bertie County Emergency Management - PO Box 530 - Windsor, NC 27983-0530