Volunteers Needed to Help Bolster Emergency Response Team
Individuals assist first responders during a crisis.
Officials are accepting applications for the township’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT).
CERTs exist throughout the United States. They are composed of residents who assist other residents and first responders during emergencies. Teams are designed so that members are embedded in a particular neighborhood so that when an emergency does occur, they are on the scene and providing assistance to those who need it until help arrives.
The Wayne CERT was founded in 2003. About 200 residents and community members, mostly teachers and individuals in the public school system, have attended training sessions in that time; about 100 are active members. There are about 40 individuals are on call at any one time.
The team is looking to bolster its numbers in light of the severe flooding that occurred due to Hurricane Irene.
“We can never have too many people,” said Sandy Galacio, director of the Office of Emergency Management (OEM). “We try to be as capable as possible with our first responders and internal personnel. The more we can augment our personnel with volunteers, the more prepared we’ll be when something occurs. We don’t want to be dependent on outside agencies.”
CERT members receive training in the following areas: basic first aid, CPR, fire suppression, and emergency management. Applicants are also taught about disaster preparedness. Volunteers may assist police at traffic barriers and help man the department’s communication center during a crisis, among other tasks.
“A lot of what these volunteers do helps free up our first responders to do the real dangerous stuff, like help evacuate people from their homes during a flood,” said Tom Cantisano, deputy director of the OEM and CERT coordinator. “We want to free up as many police and firefighters as we can.”
Applicants must be 18 years old or older and must either work or live in the town. Training will begin in late February.
About 25 hours of training sessions will be conducted over the course of several weeks. A field skills exercise will be given at the end of training. Graduates will receive a certificate and a disaster tool kit. The kit contains a flashlight, mask, protective goggles, safety vest, and a hard hat; also included in each kit is a multi-use tool used to extract individuals from beneath debris and shut off gas and water lines within a residence.
“It speaks well of the town that people are willing to step forward and help each other out,” Cantisano said.