Community Emergency Response Teams

Are you interested in self-reliance and helping your neighbors during an emergency? Do you want training in disaster preparedness, first aid, fire suppression, disaster psychology, light search and rescue, natural disasters, terrorist incidents, and team organization? Would you be excited to test that training as a hands-on responder in a disaster simulation? Would you like a free hard hat and reflective vest? If so, Lexington’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program may be for you!

Watch the video that shows the 35th CERT group’s final exam and exercise.

Lexington Emergency Management, in conjunction with the Division of Fire and Emergency Services, sponsors Lexington’s CERT program. CERT is a national initiative developed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The program’s goal is to develop neighborhood teams that are equipped with the skills they need to help themselves and their neighbors if a disaster occurs. During a disaster, police, fire, and emergency medical personnel are likely to be overwhelmed with requests for help. CERT teams use their knowledge and skills to help the people in their neighborhoods until our professional responders can get to them.

CERT members also serve a valuable role in helping Lexington respond to and recover from disasters and emergencies.

CERT assists EM and other local agencies with non-emergency operations. Team members serve as observers and “victim” role players during the annual CSEPP exercise. They participate in community outreach at a variety of public events where EM has a presence. Through CERT, team members have the opportunity for additional training in areas such as weather spotting, damage assessment, moulage, and amateur radio operations.

There are nine CERT class units in the initial training:

The CERT training consists of 27 hours of classroom and hands-on training. Classes are taught by emergency management staff and firefighters from Lexington.

  • Session 1 – Disaster Preparedness: Introduction to individual and family preparedness & disasters specific to Lexington.
  • Session 2 – Fire Suppression: Identify and reduce fire hazards. Basic fire suppression/use of fire extinguishers.
  • Session 3 – Medical Care-Part 1: Injury assessment and treatment strategies for life-threatening injuries.
  • Session 4 – Medical Care – Part 2: Advanced first aid, splinting, bandaging and stop-the-bleed training.
  • Session 5 – Light Search and Rescue: How to look for and find victims after a disaster event. Victim extrication techniques.
  • Session 6 – Team Organization and Radio Operations: Two-way radio operations and CERT group organization and operations.
  • Session 7 – Disaster Psychology and CSEPP Operations: How disasters affect victims and responders emotionally. Basics of the Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program and CERT’s role in a chemical accident response.
  • Session 8 – Terrorism: Overview of terrorism and groups prone to the use of violence. Weapons of mass destruction review.
  • Session 9 – Disaster Simulation Exercise: Class members will practice what they’ve learned in a response to a simulated natural disaster.

Since its inception, Fayette County’s CERT program has trained 496 people in 36 classes. 303 currently are active in our program. If you’d like to be a part of our next CERT class, use the contact information below to get in touch with us.

Get Involved

Training Schedule: Twice annually, once in March-April and once in September-October. Classes are one evening a week for nine weeks.

Eligibility: CERT volunteers must be 18 years old and must live or work in Fayette County. Due to some aspects of CERT’s mission, a criminal background check is required.

Contact: Shelley Bendall at (859) 280-8063 or

Learn More

For more information on the national CERT program, visit FEMA’s CERT pages.

To see previous CERT classes in action during their disaster exercises, visit our Flickr feed.

To connect with us via social networking, find us on Facebook. Also check out CERT-related posts on the DEM blog.

For a graduate’s perspective on CERT and disabilities, read the article on page 7 of the July 2007 KCCVS newsletter.

If you’re curious as to whether your neighbors already have CERT training, take a look at a 2023 CERT Map.

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