C-CERT Campus Community Emergency Response TeamU.S. Department of Homeland Security
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Campus Community Emergency Response Team (C-CERT) Train-the-Trainer Program for
American Colleges and Universities

Effective October 1, 2005, the School of Criminal Justice at Michigan State University School (MSU) was awarded a two-year, competitive training grant for $1,539,461 from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Office of Grants & Training (currently organized within FEMA as the Training and Exercise Integration/Training Operations or TEI/TO) to develop and deliver a Campus Community Emergency Response Team Train-the-Trainer Program for American colleges and universities nationwide. This program received a no-cost extension to continue its performance period to September 30, 2008, and also a $300,000 continuation grant extending until September 30, 2009.

Originally developed by the Los Angeles Fire Department in response to earthquake disasters and later adapted as an “all-hazards” course by FEMA, the Community Emergency Response Team or CERT program is now one of five Citizen Corps partner programs coordinated by DHS. The others include the Fire Corps, the Neighborhood Watch Program, the Medical Reserve Corps, and Volunteers in Police Service. All these Citizen Corps programs serve as delivery mechanisms for implementing citizen participation in preparedness consistent with Homeland Security Presidential Directive #8 (HSPD-8), the National Preparedness Goal, the Universal Task List (UTL), the Target Capabilities List (TCL), and other documents.

The primary purpose of this program is to apply the established CERT model to the college and university environment. Every campus community is a virtual “city within a city,” with many of the same challenges to public health and safety faced by any other community, but also some unique or special risks and vulnerabilities. Whether located in rural, urban or metropolitan areas, colleges and universities have large, diverse and multicultural populations of faculty, staff, and students on campus in residence halls and classrooms during the school year. Many also have large sports stadiums or arenas, conference centers, concert halls or other facilities that attract tens of thousands of visitors at a time for special events. Campus critical infrastructures may also include research laboratories, power plants, drinking water or wastewater treatment plants, hospitals and clinics, and IT networks.

Research shows that colleges and universities across the country have experienced critical incidents, emergencies and disasters from a variety of man-made and natural hazards in recent decades. The list includes major fires, hurricanes, floods, hazardous materials incidents, civil disturbances, and domestic terrorist attacks against campus research facilities by environmental or animal rights extremist groups.

Since the migration of Citizen Corps and CERT to DHS-FEMA, there has been strong support for updating and expanding the concept of “targeted” CERT programs on a national basis using a train-the-trainer approach. During the 2005 competitive training grant cycle, DHS funded not only MSU’s Campus CERT project, but also awarded a grant to Eastern Michigan University to conduct a Teen CERT Train-the-Trainer Program for high schools across the country. Other targeted CERT initiatives already developed or under consideration by Citizen Corps focus on stadium employees, people with disabilities, Indian Tribes, and CERT in other languages, such as Arabic or Spanish.

The C-CERT Train-the-Trainer curriculum was developed and piloted in 2006, and approved by TEI/TO as DHS Course No. AWR-189-1 in 2007. Classified as an awareness-level course, the program aligns with the Target Capabilities List (TCL) Target Capability Activity "Understand the Value of Collaboration Between Government and Non-Government Entities for Community Preparedness," and the list of thirteen corresponding Awareness-Level Tasks in the Capability-Based Training Framework.

Building on the standard CERT curriculum currently approved by Citizen Corps, the three-day C-CERT Train-the-Trainer Program includes a new Campus Annex to the standard CERT Instructor Guide. The first day involves lectures, small group discussions and individual “toolbox” exercises pertaining to this Annex.

Learning objectives and focus areas include:

  • Adult learning principles and educational methodology
  • Special campus hazards, risks and vulnerabilities
  • Best practices for “selling,” implementing, organizing, recruiting, training, deploying, funding and sustaining C-CERT
  • Teambuilding
  • C-CERT liability issues
  • C-CERT interface with the Incident Command System (ICS) and campus or local public safety agencies and emergency operations centers (EOCs)
  • Adapting C-CERT as a course for academic credit
  • Starting a campus Citizen Corps Council, and coordinating with local councils, CERT teams and other Citizen Corps programs

The remaining two days of the program focus on train-the-trainer tips, demonstrates, practice, and “teach-back” sessions to better prepare the trainees to deliver the standard CERT curriculum and exercises to C-CERT volunteers at their respective institutions.

Topics or units in the standard, core CERT curriculum include:

  • Disaster preparedness
  • Fire safety
  • Disaster Medical Operations—Parts 1 & 2
  • Light search and rescue operations
  • CERT organization
  • Disaster psychology
  • Terrorism and CERT
  • Disaster simulation

The C-CERT Train-the-Trainer Program targets campus police, public safety, security, emergency management, EMS, risk management, facilities management, community relations or outreach, environmental health and safety, or any other appropriate personnel who may be tasked with recruiting, training and leading CERT teams at their respective academic institutions, as well as faculty who may incorporate CERT into courses for academic credit. The program is open to academic institutions of higher learning of all types and sizes, from small private or community colleges to major state research universities and Ivy League schools.

Under the original cooperative agreement, MSU conducted twenty C-CERT Train-the-Trainer sessions nationwide, including three pilot programs. More than 600 completed one of these classes. Following final course review and approval by FEMA TEI/TO, the C-CERT program and all supporting instructional materials were adopted for national promotion and made available by FEMA and the national Citizen Corps/CERT programs.

MSU has partnered with the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators (IACLEA) and other appropriate stakeholder associations to market and deliver the program. One or more institutions within each FEMA region have hosted, or offered to host, a C-CERT Train-the-Trainer class. Site selection is based on suitable training facilities for both classroom training and practical exercises, geographic location and site accessibility. Scheduling of these programs is coordinated with the state Citizen Corps/CERT director and the designated training point-of-contact person for each homeland security state administrative agency or SAA in the states selected to host these sessions.

Dr. Phil Schertzing of the School of Criminal Justice (and retired Michigan State Police Emergency Management Division inspector), serves as overall program director for MSU on the grant, with Chuck Bouth (retired assistant chief of Lansing Fire Department) as project coordinator. The cadre of field instructors for the program includes nearly a dozen individuals who are currently active in or retired from the fire service in various departments. Several of them also have experience as Sheriff’s deputies, paramedics, campus police officers, EMT’s, and hazmat technicians.

This project is supported by Cooperative Agreement Number 2008-GT-T8-K010 administered by the
U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Points of view or opinions in this document
do not represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.











Michigan State University
School of Criminal Justice