Vashon Community Emergency Response Team (CERT)

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, using the model created by the Los Angeles City Fire Department, began promoting nationwide use of the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) concept in 1994. Since then, CERTs have been established in hundreds of communities.

CERT team members plan their route for a practice search and rescue exercise before departing from the Command Post.  Teams of 4 people typically comprise a search team.  Pictured above, L to R, are Rachel Larson, Jan Lyell, Jim Lilje, Dick Danielson and Kim Nelson.
CERT training promotes a partnering effort between emergency services - Vashon Island Fire Rescue (VIFR) as well as the King County Sheriff - and the people that they serve. The goal is for emergency personnel to train community members in basic response skills including search and rescue, disaster response, first aid,

If a disastrous event overwhelms or delays the community’s professional response, CERT members can assist others by applying the basic response and organizational skills that they learned during training. These skills can help save lives following a disaster. CERT skills also apply to household and business emergencies.

CERT members maintain and refine their skills at periodic trainings.  Trainings include rehearsal of search procedures both in the outdoors and in buildings, hands-on practice of seldom-used but critical first aid skills, enrichment topics such as orienteering, map reading and HAM radio training, and many options for attending related trainings from the Red Cross and other organizations.

Training Curriculum

CERT training includes…

  1. The types of hazards most likely to affect their homes and communities
  2. Many possible roles for CERT teams
  3. Identify and reduce potential fire hazards in homes & workplaces.
  4. Basic fire suppression strategies, resources, and safety measures
  5. First aid including opening airways, controlling bleeding, and treating shock
  6. Conducting medical triage under simulated mass-casualty conditions.
  7. Perform head-to-toe assessments of injured persons
  8. Select and set up make-shift medical treatment areas
  9. First aid for wounds, burns, broken bones and other injuries
  10. Planning and size-up requirements for potential search and rescue situations
  11. Common techniques for searching a structure
  12. Safe techniques for moving debris to extricate a trapped person 
  13. Organizational and teamwork strategies for effective and safe CERT operation

Vashon CERT TrainingSince the first Vashon Island class in 2005, sixteen basic courses have been held with about 350 graduates.  Currently about 80 are on the active team.

CERT continues to offer the full course once per year.  The course involves 40 hours of training in the topics listed above, including a one-day wrap up with workshops and a simulated earthquake disaster response effort.  Instructors are professionals with Vashon Island Fire and Rescue, experienced CERT volunteers and specialists in selected topics such as fire and disaster medical.

The next full course will be offered on Vashon March 31 through June 8, 2018.  All trainings are at the Farcy training center (main fire station on Bank Road); pre-registration required; no fee but there are a few minor supplies each student should provide for him/herself (disposable gloves, dust mask, safety glasses and appropriate work clothing for practicing some skills outside). 

About Vashon CERT

Vashon CERT Logo
The basic CERT course is offered on Vashon in 3 parts.  Each part is a pre-requisite for the next.


Part 1:  Household Preparedness, Fire & Gas Safety, How Vashon Will Tick in a Disaster
Saturday, March 31, 2018,  9 am. to 2 p.m.
Vashon Fire station on Bank Rd., Farcy training building
Sign-up required; please email
Leaders of Vashon's non-profit citizen response teams, Vashon Fire Dept and Puget Sound Energy offer a packed 5-hour seminar on how to prepare to be self-sufficient, well fed, safe and reasonably comfortable in a disaster that could isolate our island for days or weeks.  Natural gas, electrical and fire experts will cover general safety about those issues plus disaster response options.  


Part 2:  24 more hours of Fire & Utility Safety, Chemical Safety, Light Search & Rescue, and Advanced First Aid
Fridays April 6, 13, 20, 27 plus May 4, 11.  6 p.m. - 10 p.m.
Vashon Fire station on Bank Rd. for most classes; other locations will be given to you after course starts April 6.
Enrollment limited to 32 people; sign-up required by emailing
Fire Dept officers will cover most of this curriculum, giving you skills in light fire fighting, safely removing someone buried in debris or crushed by a car or similar, treating life-threatening injuries, splinting and more advanced first aid skills.  Participants must wear long pants and "work clothes" for these trainings.  If you have physical limitations, just let the instructor know and we'll gladly accommodate you.
Pre-requisite:  The March 31 preparedness seminar (or that seminar in 2017 if you attended one of those)


Part 3:  20 more hours of how CERT-trained citizens can work as a team to accomplish life-saving things in disaster situations, and what our team would likely do on Vashon in earthquake and severe weather situations as well as searching for a missing person.  This includes how we organize ourselves, administration and logistics to support our activities, and some paperwork for the paperwork nerds who can help out in that way!
Fridays May 18, 25 and June 8.   6 p.m. - 10 p.m.
Also Sunday June 3, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. (a disaster simulation practice session)
Part 3 is for people who think they can join the active Vashon CERT team.  Additional training is offered beyond this course, and the minimum requirement to stay active is to attend 4 trainings per year.  
Pre-requisite:  Parts 1 and 2 above.




Contact Us

Jan Milligan, CERT Manager