If you had the opportunity to visit the local warming centers or overnight shelters during the days that followed Hurricane Sandy, chances are you met members of the Long Valley Community Emergency Response Team, or CERT. CERT is a nationwide initiative to train individuals to be better prepared to respond to emergency situations in their neighborhoods and communities.
Last September, the first Long Valley CERT members graduated from their training, and were almost immediately faced with providing help during the most severe storm in recent memory.
Jim Smith, the Washington Township Operations Coordinator for Emergency Management and Bruce Clark, Deputy Emergency Management Coordinator, spent several months in once-a-week evening training with the charter CERT class of 11 local volunteers.
Smith and Clark will be launching a second class in February, and are looking to double the size of the team to between 20 and 25 active members. “The CERT members found themselves in the thick of the action during the response to Hurricane Sandy, and came through with flying colors. The show of support and appreciation from the community made all the hard work more than worthwhile," said Smith.
Volunteers who sign up to be part of the group will first undergo a background check, and will then receive a range of training that includes CPR, use of Automatic External Defibrillators, basic first aid, emergency triage and small fire suppression.
Once certified, members are issued emergency “go-bags” that contain essential tools to enable them to extend the town’s emergency resources by manning shelters, handling the municipal hotline, assisting with local damage assessments and relieving police at barricades during road closures.
Anyone interested in joining the group can go to Township emergency management website and download the proper application form and return it to Smith via fax at 908-876-5655 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The above information was written and provided by Bruce Clark.