With September fast approaching, Nassau County is holding Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training sessions to commemorate National Preparedness Month.
"More than 600 Nassau County residents are Community Emergency Response Team Program team members," Nassau County Legislator Judy Jacobs said. "CERT educates people about disaster preparedness and trains them in basic disaster response and recovery skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations. You can make a difference."
CERT is a federally funded, community-based program that provides training and on-going education to better prepare communities and individuals to respond to emergency situations. When an emergency or disaster happens, CERT members can give critical support to first-line responders and provide immediate assistance to their community within a coordinated, collaborative, and organized effort. CERT members can also help with non-emergency preparedness projects that help improve the overall safety and quality of living in their community.
CERT began in Los Angeles with the intention of better protecting residents living and working in the areas that are earthquake prone. Currently, the program has been launched in 28 states and is supported by FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency), EMI (Emergency Management Institute), and National Fire Academy (NFA), and New York State Emergency Management Office (SEMO).
Nassau County CERT is newly formed. With the additional state and federal funding awarded the county for 2004 and 2005, CERT will continue to be implemented in various communities throughout Nassau County. Also, certain participating voluntary agencies will be incorporating CERT into its organization including Salvation Army and Lutheran Disaster Response of New York.
The Nassau County CERT program follows the same guidelines as the state and federal government, but takes into account the vulnerabilities the County faces as well as local participating communities. Nassau County is prone to flooding, snowstorms and hurricanes among other natural and man-made incidents. Each community may have its own localized emergencies and disasters. The CERT program is meant to help address how to plan for and respond to those emergencies and disasters. In addition, CERT is a way for communities to build resilience, foster affiliated volunteerism, assist neighbors and other communities, and strengthen communities.
Bob Beckmann, CERT/Citizen Corps director suggests taking the training course to empower yourself. "If you dislike the feeling of vulnerability, helplessness, and want to better prepare, the CERT Basic training will empower you," he said. "It will train you to take care of yourself, your family and your community before, during and after a disaster."
Anyone can become a member of CERT free of charge. An eight-week basic training course is required and additional training classes and hands-on exercises are also available to obtain further knowledge.
There are many jobs within CERT for someone who wants to be involved and help. Following a disaster, CERT members are needed for documentation, comforting others, logistics, etc. Non-disaster related team activities include keeping databases, website development, newsletter, planning activities, community outreach, and preparedness education.
The eight-week basic training class is being offered on Wednesdays from 7 to 10 p.m. at the South Farmingdale Fire House, 819 Main Street in South Farmingdale on the following dates:
August 27 - Intro to CERT, CERT Organization, Intro to ICS
September 3 - Medical I & II
September 10 - Light Search & Rescue
September 17 - Terrorism, Disaster Psychology, Assisting the Disabled
September 24 - Fire suppression and Table Top Exercise
October 1 - Shelter Introduction & Table Top
October 22 - Disaster Triage
October 29 - Community Outreach, Radio Operation, Graduation.
Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and instructors are available for questions until 10:30 p.m.
For further information, or to sign up for Basic Training, contact the Nassau County Office of Emergency Management at 573-0648 or visit the website at www.nassaucountyny.gov/agencies/OEM/CC/CERT.