About Big Sur CERT

The purpose of the Big Sur Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Program is to educate, train, and prepare local residents to effectively respond to disasters within the community. CERT members work within the Incident Command System as an auxiliary arm of the Big Sur Volunteer Fire Brigade as first responders.

CERT members are trained in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, property protection, and medical operations. Utilizing this training, CERT members assist others in their neighborhood, enclave or workplace following an event when professional responders are not immediately available to help. Utilizing local knowledge, CERT members assist professional responders with prioritization and allocation of resources following a disaster.

CERT teams are established for individual enclaves within the community with a team leader for each. In addition, an overall Big Sur CERT leader coordinates CERT training and activities and act as liaison with the Big Sur Fire Brigade.

The Big Sur Emergency Operations Plan includes the role of CERT members during a community disaster.

During times of emergency, CERT members are authorized to move about within the Big Sur community to gather information, identify locations and extent of damage or other potential problems, and assist residents with immediate needs. Information and assessment data will be used to establish priorities and make decisions about how CERT members respond.

CERT members may be utilized during road closures to help law enforcement personnel identify residents and other authorized people for entry purposes.

In the event of orders for evacuation or shelter in place, CERT members communicate with the members of their enclave(s) in order to assess the impact of the incident and any need for additional resources.

About CERT Trainings

In extreme weather events or disaster situations, CERT members may play a role in disaster relief in Big Sur. If incidents are relatively minor then official and professional channels should be able to respond to incidents in a timely manner. However, if incidents should occur that overwhelm or delay official and professional responders, the CERT team may be called upon by the Big Sur Volunteer Fire Brigade to aid in response until professionals arrive.

CERT members may be called upon to:

  • Gather information to speed response when professionals arrive
  • Organize a disaster zone into quadrants (disaster site, triage, treatment, etc.)
  • Aid in communication
  • Perform basic disaster triage and First Aid
  • Perform light search and rescue
  • Put out small fires
  • Aid in evacuation
  • Aid in shelter support
  • Assess potentially hazardous situations and takes steps to keep the public from further injury (such as limiting access to a specific hazardous area, shutting off of propane in the wake of a fire or earthquake, etc.)

CERT members are encouraged to:

  • Aid in community preparedness
  • Continue their training with more extensive courses in First Aid and CPR
  • First respond to the immediate needs of themselves, their families, their neighbors, their immediate location, and then to respond to a disaster zone or staging area

When training is complete, CERT members in the Big Sur Community will have completed an extensive online course, attended two live 7 hour training sessions, and participate in a 4 hour disaster simulation.

Topics covered in the online and live training include:

  • Disaster Preparedness
  • Fire Safety
  • Disaster Medical Operations
  • Light Search and Rescue Operations
  • CERT Organization
  • Disaster Psychology
  • Terrorism and CERT
  • Disaster Simulation

CERT members receive a certificate of completion, a CERT ID, and a backpack with equipment basic that should be supplemented by each individual.

CERT training sessions are held at various times throughout the year at various locations.

Online CERT Training


ICS-100 on-line course

History of This Site

Seeing a need for a central community resource during the Basin Complex Fire in July 2008, Big Sur resident Lisa Goettel contacted Todd Millard and Denise Clark, who created a site that was instrumental in helping the flood-devestated areas of Eastern Iowa only a few weeks before. They supplied the site code at no charge to copy and customize so the Big Sur Community could have a fully-functional resource to use quickly. This became surfire2008.org, which was re-invented as SurCATS.org after the fire for ongoing winter communications. In 2010, the Big Sur Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) replaced SurCATS as the primary community organization designated to handle disaster relief and communications and the site was re-born once again in it's current form. Hosting for the website has been generously donated by CarbonLogic, in Denver, CO.

This site is now maintained and supported by CERT leaders and a small, part-time staff generously funded by the Coast Property Owners Association. The mission of BigSurCERT.org is to serve as a central communications tool among Big Sur CERT members and to provide the general public with accurate, timely, official news and announcements regarding threats to the community.

All site postings in the Needs and Offerings sections are on the honor system for those in need and those who wish to help in times of extreme weather events. Who or how to help is at your discretion based on what you can offer. This site depends on the basic good nature of all of us in Big Sur to "Do the Right Thing"!


This website not responsible for ensuring true needs requests, that posted needs will be met, the accuracy of information posted or the safety and security of either poster or provider. There is no screening process for housing or other offers and it is up to the participating parties to make their own agreements/ arrangements.