WIP: This article is a work-in-progress. gba@20130508

This article describes several ways to assist with emergency and disaster services as a part-time responder. Skills discussed range from emergency medical services to disaster technology operations.

Emergency Medicine

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is a baseline emergency medical skill. Several organizations teach this CPR, some free, some paid.

If you're in the San Francisco Bay Area, Sports Basement even offers free CPR classes!

First Aid

In addition to teaching CPR, several organizations also teach First Aid classes.

Emergency Medical Responder (EMR)

Emergency Medical Responder (EMR) is nationally recognized level of Emergency Medical Services training and scope of practice that replaces what was previous called 'First Responder'. Classes covering the curriculum for this level of certification are offered through the country. Unfortunately for those of us in California, the Emergency Medical Services Authority does not have a level of certification that matches that of the national government.

The EMR curriculum contains much of the same scope of practice as that of the Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), except with a limited instruction time. EMR classes are offered at several San Francisco Bay Area community colleges and often offer additional associated emergency medical certifications.

City College of San Francisco's Public Safety-Emergency Medical Response (Fire Science 17) includes all of the following certifications:

Emergency Medical Technician (EMT)

When you're ready to take emergency medical care seriously, you should consider setting aside a semester of school to take an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) course. This course will familiarize and certify you to care for people as a professional rescuer. This course is also offered at many San Francisco Bay Area colleges, as well as through private training facilities.

Wilderness First Responder (WFR) / Wilderness Emergency Medical Technician (WEMT)

An adjunct for emergency medical skills are the wilderness courses offered by several organizations. These courses will familiarize you with caring for patients in remote regions using local resources.

Emergency Response

Community Emergency Response Team (CERT)

The Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) Program educates people about disaster preparedness for hazards that may impact their area and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations.

Called NERT, PANDA, CORE, and other things within the Bay Area, CERT is a nationally recognized course in disaster response. This course is offered by most Bay Area municipal governments.

Emergency Communications

Amateur Radio (Ham) License

In times of crisis the most affected ability will be that of communication. Ham Radio operators have the capability and skill to overcome the obstacles of power outages, phone outages, and other communication disasters.

Emergency Management

Incident Command System (ICS)

The United States Department of Homeland Security offers several courses in ICS, the system used nation-wide for emergency and disaster management.

Links TK

Applying Skills


The following organizations provide medical services through the San Francisco Bay Area and Northern California. Volunteering (or working) for these organizations is a great way to exercise your skills as a part-time emergency medical services provider.