Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content

Citizen Corps


The mission of Citizen Corps is to harness the power of every individual through education, training, and volunteer service to make their communities safer, stronger, and better prepared to respond to the threats of terrorism, crime, public health issues, and disasters of all kinds.
The Citizen Corps program asks you to embrace the personal responsibility required to be prepared; to get training in first aid and emergency skills; and to volunteer to support local emergency responders, disaster relief, and community safety. Everyone can do something to help make our families and our communities safer through:
Personal responsibility: Developing a household preparedness plan and disaster supplies kits, observing home health and safety practices, implementing disaster mitigation measures, and participating in crime prevention and reporting.
Training:  Taking classes in emergency preparedness, response capabilities, first aid, CPR, fire suppression, and search and rescue procedures.
Volunteer service:  Engaging individuals in volunteer activities that support first responders, disaster relief groups, and community safety organizations. Everyone can do something to support local law enforcement, fire, emergency medical services, community public health efforts, and the four stages of emergency management: prevention, mitigation, response and recovery efforts.
For additional general information about the Citizen Corps and its 5 component programs, visit the National Citizen Corps web site, at:

State Structure and Operations

The Citizen Corps program provides Americans with opportunities to serve their country helping their own cities and counties develop a “Whole Community” response to emergency planning, response and recovery.  The mission of the State Citizen Corps organization is to provide resources to local programs to assist them to build community resilience through the establishment of these community service programs.


Training requirements vary by program and  position.  Required training is usually provided or coordinated by local program managers.  Advanced training for CERT Trainers and Citizen Corps program managers is offered to qualified volunteers by MN Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEM) or from the FEMA Emergency Management Institute (EMI).  Review the specific program fact sheet for more information or contact the local Citizen Corps council.

Citizen Corps Partner Programs










Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT)

CERT members are community volunteers trained in basic response skills by emergency personnel. CERT members are prepared to save lives, prevent the spread of disease, and help protect themselves, their families, and their community in the event of a disaster. Trained CERT members play an active role in helping to build emergency preparedness and response capabilities in their communities through:

  • Disaster preparedness
  • Fire suppression
  • Medical operations
  • Homeland Security

For more information about the CERT program, read the Commmunity Emergency Response Team Fact Sheet or visit the national CERT website, at 




Volunteers in Police Service (VIPS)

Citizen involvement in public safety is essential to the security and prosperity of our neighborhoods and our nation. The Volunteers in Police Service (VIPS)program provides citizens with opportunities to train, work with and assist theirlocal law enforcement organizations in community engagement, public safety and protection. VIPS members volunteer to assisting police and sheriff departments in a variety of community oriented, educational and prevention-based programs.
For more information about the Minnesota Volunteers In Police Service (VIPS) program, read the Volunteers in Police Service Fact Sheet or visit the national VIPS website.


USA on Watch (Neighborhood Watch)

USA on Watch is the name for the umbrella support organization for local Neighborhood Watch programs across the country.  Neighborhood Watch is a crime prevention program that allows citizens to help keep their communities safe and reduce their vulnerabilty to crime and other hazards. 
The program helps to build strong communities by developing good relationships with local law enforecment and teaching how to observe, identify and report suspicious activity or hazardous threats in their neighborhoods.
For additional information on the Neighborhood Watch programs in Minnesota, read the USAonWatch Fact Sheet or visit the website.


Fire Corps

Local Fire Corps units are groups of citizen volunteers who devote their time to support and supplement their local fire departments in non-fire fighting activities.   This support allows local responders to better concentrate their efforts and resources on training and emergency response operations.  Fire Corps support functions can include:
  • Life Safety Education
  • Data Entry
  • Bookkeeping
  • Administrative Functions
  • Public Relations
  • Pre-Plan Research
  • Photographer
  • Historian

Medical Reserve Corps (MRC)

Medical Reserve Corps programs are a resource of health volunteers who strengthen their communities by preparing for and responding to local public health emergencies.  MRC programs train people before disaster strikes and integrate them into existing emergency preparedness and response structures to provide support when the unthinkable happens.
The Medical Reserve Corps is made up of volunteers who have a variety of accredited medical or health care training, skills and experience or  mental health care experience or other non-medical skills who can provide support to local medical or response organizations during public health emergencies or disasters or during non-emergency events and activities. 
For more information, read the Minnesota Medical Reserve Corps Fact Sheet  or visit the national Medical Reserve Corps website, at: