Some seven months and more than 40 hours of training later, 11 Washington Township volunteers were certified to be official members of the town’s Community Emergency Response Team (C.E.R.T.).
Washington Township Police Department facility operator and Office of Emergency Management Deputy Coordinator Jim Smith took the reigns on interviewing members of the group and giving volunteers the proper training and coursework necessary to be certified by the state.
New Jersey’s Emergency Response Specialist Captain Howard Butt commended Smith, along with Bruce Clark, for adding 11 more residents to the state’s 20,000 volunteer emergency responders.
“Now comes the hard part,” Butt said. “To get up at a God forsaken time and help others. These things tend to happen at the most inopportune time, but that’s why we have C.E.R.T.
“I want to congratulate you,” Butt continued. “And I want to challenge you to stay involved.”
This is the first time Washington Township has utilized a volunteer emergency response team, and will be mobilized during natural disasters and other emergencies to aid first-responders in town.
“Last fall’s events showed we need a C.E.R.T. team,” Mayor Ken Short said. “We had first responders manning shelters and directing traffic, taking them from emergency situations. The C.E.R.T. members will be able to fill that space.”
New Jersey has one of the largest C.E.R.T. teams in the country, according to Butt.
In the event of an emergency or disaster, C.E.R.T. members would convene at the police department and be instructed as to where and how they can assist local law enforcement and first-responders, Smith said earlier this year.
“During the snowstorm (in October 2011), I saw someone made a comment on the Internet about Washington Township’s OEM being ‘M.I.A.,’” Smith said. “We can’t have that happen. People need help during those times, whether it’s shelter or food or communication.”