Contact Us & FAQs



MPDPD Community Crisis Management
Program Director
Michael Ralston
mralston@menlofire.org

Facebook: @MPFD.CERT
Twitter: @menlofire
Offices:
Menlo Park Fire Protection 
District
Fire Station 1
300 Middlefield Road
Website or database issues? 

Check FAQs (below). If not answered, email us:

admin@menlofirecert.com






On this page you will find answers to common questions about the Menlo Park Fire Protection District's CERT program. If there is something that you like to know that is not answered here, please contact us.

What is CCM and what is CERT?

The Menlo Fire District proudly serves the communities of Atherton, East Palo Alto, and Menlo Park, through a comprehensive neighborhood program called Community Crisis Management (CCM). This program includes volunteer and professionally led services in Disaster Education, Disaster Exercises, Communication, Outreach and Logistics. The CCM program is centered around an active Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), which trains community members about disaster preparedness, hazards that may impact their area, and basic disaster response skills (such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations). Using the training learned in the classroom and during exercises, CERT members assist others in their neighborhood or workplace following an event when professional responders are not immediately available to help. CERT members also are encouraged to support emergency response agencies by taking a more active role in emergency preparedness projects in their community.” FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) develops training materials, hosts webinars, and provides other support services to CERT programs across the nation. Each CERT program must have a local sponsoring agency, usually a fire department, office of emergency services, or police department. The Menlo Park Fire Protection District is the sponsoring agency for our CERT program. For more information about FEMA and CERT, go to www.fema.gov/community-emergency-response-teams.

How do I join CCM / CERT?

Membership in CCM begins by successfully completing the Basic CERT training course. The first step is to apply online for CCM membership. Membership in CCM enables you to register for free classes, and have a voice in electing the volunteer leaders of CCM. It also allows you to have a voice in how CCM sets its priorities for training, exercises, events, and other business of the CCM program. You can also take the first portion of the CERT course on personal preparedness and elect to not join the CERT team (if disaster response just isn't your thing). Membership is entirely optional. Only residents that live within the boundaries of the Menlo Park Fire Protection District can vote in CERT elections. However, non-residents (such as people who work in within the MPFPD but live elsewhere) may join our CERT program. CCM membership is open to all ages, however CERT responders must be 18 or older.

How often does CCM meet?

MPFPD CCM members meet at least annually as an organization. 

CCM members are encouraged to attend periodic neighborhood and district-wide meetings, training, and exercises. The frequency of these meetings will vary by neighborhood and your interest in various CCM / CERT training topics. 

Are CERT members protected against lawsuits?

There are two basic protections against lawsuits arising from actions taken during an emergency available to CERT members in California.

1. California Good Samaritan Laws. Like many states, California law indemnifies citizens against lawsuits when they take actions during an emergency who act in good faith and within the scope of their training to render aid to the injured. 

2. Designation as a California Disaster Service Worker (DSW). Officially activated CERT members are protected under DSW, subject to the stipulations and limitations within California statutes. Activation happens when the Menlo Park Fire District uses its emergency notification system to request the assistance of specific CERT Teams. DSW serves to help you should you be injured on the job during an authorized CERT response. 

What does CERT training entail?

The CERT Basic Training Course provides an introduction to CERT, combining classroom and hands-on activities in areas such as:

  • emergency preparedness
  • medical triage
  • emergency first aid
  • light search and rescue
  • the incident command system
  • disaster psychology
  • emergency communications
  • fire suppression
  • damage assessment

Other courses will be offered from time to time on more advanced aspects of these topics. The Federal Emergency Response Agency (FEMA) also has a large number of online courses that are suitable for CERT members. See our training page for more information.

Is there a place for current or retired medical professionals?

Yes. Besides the CERT program itself, those with advanced medical training are encouraged to volunteer for the Medical Reserve Corps. Contact cert@menlofirecert.com for more information.

Do members of CCM do anything other than attend classes and have drills?

Yes. CCM is active in various community events such as street fairs, neighborhood block parties, and other events providing information to local citizens on emergency preparedness, disaster response, and home fire safety. We also provide radio communications and basic first aid for such events.

How many people are in MPFPD CCM?

There are approximately 400 volunteers, with varying levels of activity within the organization.

Are there any age or other restrictions on CERT membership?

CERT members must be 18 years or older in order to become a member of CERT.  Younger children may take the course but may not be deployed as a CERT.

There are no physical restrictions on members. While not everyone may be able to actively and safely participate in field activities, there are plenty of opportunities for other functions for members with limited mobility or other restrictions. We will make reasonable accommodations for members with physical impairments. 

If I took a CERT course in another community, can I join MPFPD CERT?

The District CERT Advisor has the authority to waive the need for taking the basic MPFPD CERT course. However, we will ask you to complete our CERT course as soon as possible to become familiar with specific threats in our area and to meet others from your neighborhood.

How can I become a CERT trainer?

CERT members interested in becoming a CERT trainer must complete a “Train the Trainer” course. These classes are offered periodically in the Bay Area and other regional locations. Email cert@menlofirecert.com to find about the next class.

Does CERT work with agencies such as the Red Cross, law enforcement, and other emergency organizations?

Yes, but indirectly. In case of a CERT mobilization we always report to MPFPD first. This is called “chain of command.” MPFPD would coordinate activities with other agencies.

I have an amateur radio license. Can I be a ham radio operator for CERT?

Yes. CERT is always in need of amateur radio operators. They are key members of our communications team and strategy. Take a look at our Radio page to see how to participate in our monthly radio check-in.

How can I find out if there are CERT meetings in my particular neighborhood?

Go to Neighborhoods to learn which neighborhood (district) you live in and the name of your neighborhood coordinator. If you neighborhood does not have a coordinator, please consider becoming one. Contact cert@menlofirecert.com

How do I sign up for a CERT course?

Courses are announced on the homepage of our website in the Calendar section. Follow the links to register online. For questions about any CERT courses, email cert@menlofirecert.com.

How are CERTs notified of emergencies and mobilized?

Our primary method is through San Mateo County (SMC) alert, a text messaging and email system. In case of an area-wide emergency such as an earthquake, after checking their personal safety and that of the immediate family and neighbors, CERT members should report to their designated neighborhood assembly or to the nearest fire station to assemble into teams and set up an incident command team. See Neighborhoods page for more reporting information.

I am really only interested in learning emergency preparedness for myself and my family. Can I still take the Basic CERT class?

Yes. CERT is about community preparedness and response. Being better prepared for disaster and trained to respond to emergencies benefits all CERTs, both active and inactive. If you are looking for a basic disaster preparedness class without the 20-hour training commitment of CERT, we suggest a Get Ready to be Prepared class. See our Training and Events Calendar on the home page.

Is CERT free? Are there costs for attending the classes or for becoming a CERT member?

CERT is a free program. It is financially supported by FEMA, the State of California, and the Menlo Park Fire Protection District, and through the efforts of dozens of volunteers.

To whom can I report a broken web link or other problem with the web site?

Email us a admin@menlofirecert.com. Please be sure to include the URL of the page on which the broken link appears as well as the broken URL itself, or any other details about the problem you can provide.