CERT: FAQs

Where do you get your funding?

The University of Washington received a FEMA grant under the Disaster Resistant Universities (DRU) program to establish a pilot project for a Campus Emergency Response Team in 2004. The successes of the pilot project lead to additional monies being given to the University to continue to develop the CERT program.

Why is your CERT program for University employees only?

We have found that other campuses that also provide CERT-type training provide that training primarily to staff (not students). Since the average service length of UW staff is 20 years, we made a business decision that this would represent our core group to provide training to when we expand the program this fall. In addition, UW staff members are covered under additional workplace safety and liability protections that are not extended to members of the student body. Finally, as we learned from the pilot program, all future CERT teams must be comprised of at least 6-8 individuals who work in the same actual building or facility at any one time and have primary responsibility for the operations of that building. Most students move from building to building and cannot be responsible for the actual life safety issues within a single facility.

What is the average size of your training classes?

We’ve found that 30 CERT trainees are the most we want to have in any one class. Due to the nature of the subjects, a lot of questions are often brought up and we want to have the time to answer questions. Additionally, we value hands-on training for subjects such as fire suppression, urban search and rescue and disaster medical treatment.

How long is your CERT course?

We decided to compress the traditional 9 week, 27 hour course into a 2.5 day, 20 hour course. This was done primarily to accommodate our staff work schedules. We supplement the training with frequent workshops (monthly) and training opportunities (quarterly). Additionally, we encourage our staff to pursue further training as it’s offered from the University and from State and Federal programs, such as FEMA’s Professional Development Series.

What is the content of your CERT program?

Generally, we follow FEMA’s program in schedule and content, but with some tailoring to address circumstances unique to the University environment. For example: Being a research University, we have several areas where hazardous materials are stored. Our Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) portion of our training has been altered to include hazardous chemical considerations for our CERT teams.

Does the UW require CERT participation of its employees?

NO. This would cause a number of HR and legal problems to develop regarding liability for volunteer actions and volunteer protection under the law.

I have received CERT training from another agency. Can I join the UW CERT team?

Absolutely! However, we do require ONE of the following:

  1. A copy of your FEMA/EMI CERT graduation certificate.
  2. A signed letter on agency letterhead from the agency who trained you.

Either of the above documents will be sufficient for our records to show that you have graduated from an accredited basic CERT program outside of the University of Washington. Graduation certificates from out of state CERT programs are accepted, as long as they meet the basic CERT training requirements as set forth by FEMA. You will be asked to attend additional UW training to introduce you to some of the localized considerations for CERT operations.

To find out how to get involved with the CERT program, please contact the UW CERT Program Manager at (206) 897-CERT, or disaster@u.washington.edu