CERT: Innovative Training

Incident Command Game

The UW CERT program developed a game designed to introduce some of the stress of command, using the Incident Command System (ICS). The game is fun, a great training tool and very cost-effective. It provides some of the same training aspects as a fully functional exercise without the cost, organizational challenges and time-commitment of one.

Triage Bears

The Kent Fire Department of Kent, WA uses teddy bears to support their triage training for their CERT trainees. The UW CERT program borrowed this excellent idea from Kent and has used it very successfully. You can see their triage bears at their site here:


Moulage is disaster make-up used to simulate realistic wounds on live volunteer victims. The UW CERT program uses moulage to bring a higher level of reality to our training disaster scenarios. Upon the advice of the UW Drama department, we purchased a Ben Nye Moulage kit.

Cribbing and Extraction Training

To assist with the debris support cribbing and victim extraction training, we purchased a 150 pound, 5’ 5” search and rescue mannequin to provide a “victim” for our CERT trainees to rescue. “George” acts as a valuable training aid as he lies pinned under a steel filing cabinet that we’ve filled with cement blocks. We chose a filing cabinet instead of the more traditional ecology block because it was easier to move (when empty) and presented a more plausible entrapment scenario.

Tough Functional Training Scenarios

One of the benefits to being a large University is the abundance of buildings available for disaster exercises. Wherever we are, we try to make the exercise environment as difficult to work in as possible. We try to make the scenario as close to absolute darkness as we can. We add “traps” in the form of dangling wires, simulated holes in the floor, HazMat spills, locking doors and the like. We place our volunteer victims in locations that are difficult to access and rescue from. We have a higher than average number of “red” and “yellow” victims. We have sudden “emergencies” that require all rescuers to evacuate at some point during the exercise. Careless rescuers or those who ignore the buddy system become victims.

Our philosophy is that if we simulate a difficult, dark, highly hazardous environment under controlled conditions, our CERT teams will perform better when they are doing the real job, in real life. It would be very unusual to encounter all of the threat conditions of the scenario in a real situation. If our CERT teams are trained under the toughest conditions that we can create, any real situations that they encounter will likely be easier for them to work in.