CLARK – The Township of Clark is looking for people who want to make a difference in their community. Volunteers will be trained to become Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) members.
The township will hold a training program this winter, if enough people sign up. There have been five previous classes for the general public and one for various teachers and administrators in the Clark Public School System.
The CERT concept dates back to 1985, when the Los Angeles Fire Department recognized that in the early stages of a major disaster local emergency, responders could be overwhelmed. Basic training in disaster survival and rescue skills could improve the ability of community members to help themselves until responders or other assistance arrived.
This program, which now exists in every state, is promoted by the federal government through the Citizens Corp. program and the NJ State Police Office of Emergency Management. New Jersey presently ranks among the top states in the country based on the number of CERT programs within each state.
The training program takes 24 hours over a nine week period, providing information on a variety of topics. Participants will receive training in such areas as; CERT Organization and Incident Command System, Identifying Hazards, General Disaster Preparedness, Basic Fire Knowledge, Basic First Aid, Light Search & Rescue, Disaster Psychology, and Terrorism.
This program is not intended to train people to be first responders, but graduates will be better able to help themselves and their families, to possibly help their neighbors, and, if they choose, to help their community by assisting the various township emergency services in a major emergency situation.
CERT members that volunteer to help on a community level during an emergency situation could be used for a number of things including: staffing an emergency operations center or shelters, providing food and supplies to first responders, providing assistance or transportation to people who have to evacuate their homes, or delivering pumps and/or generators to other residents in time of flooding or power outages.
Anyone interested in participating in this program should contact the Office of Emergency Management at 1-732-388-3600 Ext. 3007. Applicants must be at least 18 years old.
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