The CERT (extended Edition)

Today, the so-called CERT, the Chaos Emergency Response Team, is naturally the first point of contact for people at chaos events for all medical problems, and is also responsible for fire protection, escape route safety and sometimes for loose cables or similar. As the Chaos Emergency Response Team, we are there for all emergencies at the Congress. As a part of the critical infrastructure of the event, we also have to ensure compliance with the respective regulations towards the fire brigade and the city, so the work is not quite as free as in other angel teams. But how did it actually come about and what does this team do anyway?

When many people meet in one place, there is a risk of injury. This is especially true when soldering irons, cutter knives, forklifts or possibly even self-propelled pieces of furniture are involved. In other words, for chaos events. Someone has to take care of the resulting injuries. And as is always the case in chaos, something that is not yet there is quickly invented. From 1997, even before the official foundation, Fox (aka SaniFox) and a few others from the Chaoswelle volunteered to take care of injuries and other medical problems of the participants at Chaos events. Due to the larger scale of operations, he decided to do this together with a small team from 2001 onwards. So the CERT then came into being at 19C3. The team, which was loosely organised in the beginning, became more and more professional and took over the tasks of medical and technical security at the chaos events. Finally, the ever larger events of the CCC (the last congress had 18,000 visitors) made medical services obligatory. And of course the CERT takes care of that. Our main task is to provide first aid in medical emergencies. Furthermore, we take care of fire protection, ensure that escape routes remain clear and emergency exits are not blocked, or sometimes find solutions to completely different problems. A meta-help organisation in chaos, so to speak.

To make it all work, we are now organized into 3 Units:

The Medical Unit:

Actually, the CERT Medical Unit has been around longer than CERT itself. As you just learned, our origin was a small volunteer team of the Chaoswelle for the medical emergencies in the Chaos. So the CERT Medical Angels have been there from the beginning. Little by little, the missions became more, the small group bigger. High visibility vests and a backpack were procured and a medical station was set up at Congress and Camp. But at the latest with the move to Hamburg for 29c3 and the greatly increased number of participants, a clearer structure became necessary. Material had to be sorted and packed and shifts had to be planned better, so the team got to work and the medical unit grew with the Congress. This was sorely needed, because what no one ever wants to experience finally happened at 31c3. There was a massive accumulation of diarrhea at the Congress. Now it was time for CERT to show that what had been built up over the years really performed. And it did. Within 30 minutes, our dispatchers no longer had six working angels on shift, but 30. An entire corridor of the CCH was transformed into a makeshift hospital and a small hall became the centre for all CERT angels who were not directly working on patients. The night was endured and about 24 hours later the last patient was discharged. The CERT Medical Unit had passed its acid test. In order to take further developments into account, additional material was then procured and further thought was given to what could be improved. At 33C3, another type of angel was added to the existing ones: the paramedics were born. From now on, there was at least one angel from this class in every shift, who kept workload off the doctors' backs a little. Today, the CERT provides the medical help at the medium and larger Chaos events, from minor aches and pains to real emergencies. In our Nerd Reception we not only have places for our patients to sit and lie down, but from AEDs to unicorn plasters to bandages, we always have the material we need. Depending on the situation and local conditions, CERT may even have an ambulance for transporting patients on the premises of the event, such as at the Chaos Communication Camp 2003 in Berlin or the multiple Camps in Mildenberg. Nevertheless, of course we can't help everyone on site with us. If necessary, we send our patients to a doctor in private practice, directly to hospital, or call the local ambulance service, which then takes the patient to the emergency room. Due to the legal situation in Germany, we are not allowed to carry out such transports ourselves. Fortunately, this is only very rarely necessary. Overall, our medical team is constantly developing. Lectures in the CERT, new developments in medicine, or even an old ultrasound device to try out, there is always something to learn. From each other and with each other. We hope that it will continue like this for a long time.

The Technical Unit

In the Technical Unit all angels are grouped, who have a technical safety training, for example with the fire department, the THW, or also as a safety engineer. For the CERT these angels do the part of fire protection and technical security. This area was very strong in the origin of CERT (nerds and technology), and is now growing again increasingly with the new requirements. The Technical Unit started with fire protection at smaller events and a fire extinguisher. In order to cope with larger sites, an improvised fire truck was quickly invented: A small gasoline pump delivered water from a 1000l tank. This was intended to be able to cope with the initial attack and smaller fires under our own power. Today, however, the system is no longer used due to legal restrictions. However, it is precisely these legal conditions that have led to the Technical Unit growing again today: events now regularly require fire safety guards, and people who keep an eye on escape routes. And of course, power lines and spontaneously hacked-together equipment should not pose any major hazards. All of this is the job of our Technical Angels today. They make sure that accidents don't happen in the first place and are always armed with gaffa and a roll of barricade tape. They keep an eye on potential fire hazards and thus ensure that an event is allowed to take place at all. And if a trash can does catch fire, it will be extinguished. Depending on the event and the number of people, the unit can act with its own forces or we can get suitable "nerd-compatible" support. At the camps in Mildenberg, for example, a fire department company was hired and thus an all-terrain fire-truck according to DIN was used.

The Support Unit

In 2005 it was time again for the Congress. Since it takes place in winter and it was quite cold that year, the problem arose of long lines of people waiting in the cold outside the buildings for something. To prevent these nerds from becoming patients of CERT, the Support Unit was created. Elchbulle was the origin of this idea and started to distribute hot tea to people waiting. The foundation was laid and as time went on, opportunities and tasks were found to be done that were not so much about blood or fire, but more about caring. For the chaos participants, and of course for the CERT angels themselves. Due to improved checkout lines and other things, the Support Unit unfortunately fell into oblivion a bit, but the need was always there and so it was never completely lost. At the latest since CCCamp2019, under the leadership of mrm2m, "CERT Food and Logistics" has now permanently established this further sub-unit within CERT. Practically, Food and Logistics fulfills functions of the LOC and the Angel Kitchen for the CERT today and is thus a valuable contribution to the morale and operational capability of the CERT.


In order for all of this to work together, someone has to keep track of everything, and especially at larger events, there is no way around having a command post on site. In CERT, we have our so-called dispatchers for this purpose. These are the responsible angels of a shift, our leaders. Due to the regulations for ambulance services, only trained group leaders or higher trained leaders are allowed to take over this position with us. Likewise, a few years of CERT experience is important to us. The dispatcher is the first point of contact for all congress participants who call the CERT emergency number and also the contact person for all CERT angels who have questions. During deployments, he or she is the responsible leader. The dispatchers, especially the dispatcher on duty, are the central link in CERT. The dispatcher communicates and coordinates running shifts, is the contact person for the room shift, operates the radio and telephone, etc. In short, nothing runs without the dispatcher.