New York City Community Emergency Response Teams (NYC CERT) are groups of dedicated volunteers who help to prepare their neighbors and communities for different types of disasters. NYC CERT falls under the Community Outreach unit within New York City Emergency Management, the City's coordinating agency for organizations and agencies involved in emergency planning, education, and information dissemination.

Emergency services personnel are the best equipped to respond to disasters. NYC CERT volunteers are trained to support the efforts of New York City's first responders.

During non-emergency times, NYC CERTs educate their communities about emergency preparedness by working with the Ready New York program and building community disaster networks through the NYC Citizen Corps program.

How is NYC CERT different from the national FEMA CERT program?

In partnership with FDNY and NYPD, NYC Emergency Management has taken the national program and adapted it to reflect the unique circumstances of living and working in New York City. Risks and hazards in NYC are different from anywhere else in the world. New York City also has more first responders than most other areas in the country, so NYC CERT members support them rather than respond themselves.

NYC CERT is like every other agency in the City and does not self-deploy. NYC Emergency Management's Watch Command unit deploys teams to emergencies and planned events.

The NYC CERT program recognizes teams that:

  • Have gone through the NYC Emergency Management basic training;
  • Accept and follow the NYC CERT Standard Operating Procedures; and
  • Are credentialed to participate in training and deployments through NYC Emergency Management.

Basic Training

All NYC CERT members are required to undergo an intensive 10-week training program that raises awareness about emergencies and disasters and provides basic response skills needed for fire safety, light search and rescue, disaster medical operations, and traffic control.

Held on consecutive evenings for 10 weeks within one of the five boroughs, classes are approximately three hours long and are interactive with relevant emergency and disaster discussions and group-building activities based on the Incident Command System (ICS). NYC CERT instructors are active FDNY, NYPD, and NYC Emergency Management personnel.

The 10 weeks of training include:

  • Introduction to NYC CERT and ICS
  • Urban Environment I: High-rise and Utility Emergencies
  • Urban Environment II: Transportation
  • Urban Environment III: Building Community Disaster Networks
  • Disaster Medical Operations
  • Fire Safety
  • Light Search and Rescue
  • Police Science and Terrorism Awareness

During the last class of the training, volunteers participate in a disaster simulation that ties the entire curriculum for response and ICS, including live "victims" from active CERTs.

Upon completion of the 10 weeks of training, volunteers are invited to a formal graduation ceremony and proceed to join their local CERT and support their communities by assisting with emergency education and response.

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