Begin Main Content Area

Ways to Volunteer

If you'd like to get involved with emergency preparedness and response in Pennsylvania, consider volunteer opportunities. There are options for different trainings and interests.

Community Emergency Response Team

CERT Team Member

Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) is a training program that prepares people to help themselves, their families, and their neighbors in the event of a disaster in their community. Through CERT, citizens can learn about disaster preparedness and receive training in basic disaster response skills such as fire safety, light search and rescue, and disaster medical operations. With this training, volunteers can provide critical support by giving immediate assistance to victims before emergency first responders arrive on scene.

CERT Resources

  • Learn more from the CERT fact sheet (PDF)
  • For additional information on CERT or to find a program in your area, please email the program manager
  • If you are interested in registering to volunteer your assistance during a disaster, visit SERVPA for additional information or to start the registration process
  • Additional CERT program information, training materials, and CERT program locations near you can be found at

Citizen Corps

As a rural state, Pennsylvania relies heavily on its volunteer fire, EMS, and emergency management personnel. In addition, many of the law enforcement personnel at the municipal levels are part-time. If a disaster strikes during the day and volunteers cannot get home, citizens are required to take care of their families and neighbors.

The core programs under the Citizen Corps umbrella are ideal for rural states like Pennsylvania due to the "neighbor helping neighbor" concept. Moreover, they will work equally well in our large cities, such as Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. In the event of a large-scale disaster, even the career forces could become quickly overwhelmed and need assistance.

Read more about the core programs under Citizen Corps and see how you can get involved:

For more information, email the Pennsylvania Citizen Corps program manager.

Neighborhood/Crime Watch

Neighborhood/Crime Watch programs empower residents to become active in homeland security efforts through community participation.

Neighborhood/Crime Watch Resources

Fire Corps

Fire Corps promotes the use of citizen advocates (volunteers) to support and augment the capacity of resource-constrained fire and emergency service departments at all levels: volunteer, combination, and career.

Fire Corps Resources

Volunteers in Police Service

The Volunteers in Police Service (VIPS) program works to enhance the capacity of state and local law enforcement to utilize volunteers. VIPS serves as a gateway to resources and information for and about law enforcement volunteer programs. Funded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice, VIPS is managed and implemented by the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

VIPS Resources

Medical Reserve Corps

The Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) program strives to improve the health and safety of communities across the state by organizing and utilizing public health, medical, and other volunteers who want to donate their time and expertise to prepare for and respond to emergencies

 Volunteer MRC units accomplish this mission by supplementing existing emergency and public health resources during local emergencies and other times of community need. 

MRC Resources