In the event of a major disaster, professional emergency services may be overwhelmed and unavailable for long periods of time. The widespread needs of the city will depend upon voluntary assistance. The Loma Prieta Earthquake of 1989 demonstrated the need for volunteers.
The Marin County fire departments have adopted a citizen training program: Community Emergency Response Training (CERT). CERT is designed to train citizens to care for themselves and neighbors in the event of a disaster, such as an earthquake or a wildland fire. In the past the Larkspur Fire Department has used the Neighborhood Emergency Response Team (NERT) program to train citizens to be better prepared and provide for themselves, their families, and their neighbors. The CERT program is a similar program, but is presented in a shorter and more condensed format.