CDC’s CERC Program—Principles to communicate by in an emergency response and everyday life

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As a Public Information Officer, Mike was used to communicating health information to the people of his state. When word came that a major hurricane was approaching, he knew people would be facing fear and uncertainty. How could he make sure that the right information got to the right people? How should he react to the public’s negative emotions and false information? Most importantly, how could he help to protect health and lives?  Mike knew exactly where to begin- with the principles of CDC’s Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication training.

CDC’s Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication (CERC) program teaches you how to craft messages that tell the public what the situation means for them and their loved ones, and what they can do to stay safe.

CERC provides a set of principles that teach effective communication before, during, and after an emergency. The six principles of CERC are:

  1. Be First                              4. Express Empathy
  2. Be Right                             5. Promote Action
  3. Be Credible                      6. Show Respect

The CDC CERC program has resources, training, and shared learning where you can participate in online training and receive continuing education credits. CERC also has CERC in Action stories from other public health professionals who have successfully applied CERC to an emergency response.

Communicating during an emergency is challenging, but you’re not alone! CERC can help you figure out how to get the right information to the right people at the right time whether you’re dealing with a family emergency or a hurricane.

CERC in Action

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PHPR: Health Security in Action

This post is part of a series designed to profile programs from CDC’s Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response.

CERC and CERC training are a service provided by CDC’s Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response’s (OPHPR) Division of Emergency Operations.



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7 comments on “CDC’s CERC Program—Principles to communicate by in an emergency response and everyday life”

Comments listed below are posted by individuals not associated with CDC, unless otherwise stated. These comments do not represent the official views of CDC, and CDC does not guarantee that any information posted by individuals on this site is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. Read more about our comment policy ».

    I chair the ID committee of the AAP Maryland chapter. Can we arrange for a webinar for MDAAP on CERC? A call would be appreciated Anne Bailowitz, MD, MPH

    CERC is a communication method that I truly believe in, so much so that I am a CERC instructor in Indiana. I am passionate about Crisis + Emergency Risk Communication and believe that everyone in any organization, whether in an official capacity or not, is a spokesperson for that organization. If you have any inquiries about any CERC course that I instruct, please feel free to contact me.

    I actually thought the graphics were a joke when I first saw them. Crisis & Emergency Risk Communication ‘INACTION?” Maybe you need those two words on separate lines or at least more of a space between the words. Definitely not the message you want to send…

    I am a public health student and would like to get some online training in emergency preparedness training. what is the process?

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Page last reviewed: November 5, 2015
Page last updated: November 5, 2015