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A Citizen’s Eye View of Public Preparedness

My CERT Team At The Manhattan Crane Accident

March 30th, 2008 · 3 Comments

One of the most interesting and fulfilling parts of my preparedness experience thus far has been my participation in the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program. CERT is a federally-funded program which trains citizens to help the authorities during emergencies. It began in California and has spread across the nation. Here in New York City, there are currently 56 teams in all five boroughs with a total of 1500 New Yorkers.

To join CERT, I completed the 11-week/33-hour training at New York’s Roosevelt Island and then joined my local unit, the East Sixties Neighborhood Association (ESNA-CERT). Thus far, I’ve responded to the plane crash that killed Yankees’ pitcher Cory Lidle near the East River, handed out disaster guides in 13 different languages, played the role of “Rude Evacuee #1” at a major City hurricane drill, and even mixed the hot chocolate at a Red Cross evacuation center. I also received special headquarters training so if something serious happens I can man the CERT desk at the City’s Emergency Operations Center. In November, I was thrilled to be recognized for my work so far and selected as the “Ready New Yorker of the Month” by the City’s Office of Emergency Management.

Our most recent activity occurred a couple weeks ago after the serious crane accident on 1st Avenue and 51st Street. In the days after the accident, our team was asked to distribute bottled and hydrant water to area residents whose utilities had not been restored. 

cert building collapse 001 

WABC-TV did a story on the CERT activities for its Eyewitness News broadcast. The link is below. You can see my hands filling a bucket at the hydrant and then carrying cases of water up to apartments.


As you can see in the story, we were not doing anything major. But we were helping lighten the load on the authorities and the Red Cross. The residents were thankful to have our help and happy to see their fellow New Yorkers pitching in 


The CERT program is clearly a work in progress, but it is very exciting and rewarding to be part of that process.

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Tags: CERT

3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Business Roundtable/Red Cross Employee Disaster Volunteer Workshop // Apr 18, 2008 at 8:32 am

    [...] One of the most notable examples of employee disaster volunteerism discussed was the Red Cross’ Ready When The Time Comes program. As a CERT member, I recently had the opportunity to see the program up close when I worked with some corporate volunteers from the Red Cross in Greater New York at the recent Manhattan crane accident. [...]

  • 2 “‘Go-Bag’/Emergency Supplies Tax Holiday” Legislation Introduced In New York State Assembly // May 26, 2008 at 6:54 pm

    [...] difference during some types of emergencies.” Bing cited both 9/11 as well as the recent Turtle Bay crane accident that killed seven people in his district as reminders of the need for citizen [...]

  • 3 Bigger Than Expected Crowd At Local Preparedness Event Underscores Public’s Interest, Their Good Questions & Ideas, And The Lure Of Free ‘Go-Bags’ // Sep 9, 2008 at 7:53 pm

    [...] As part of National Preparedness Month, my local State Assemblyman, Jonathan Bing, held a special emergency readiness forum Monday night along with the American Red Cross of Greater New York and New York City’s Office of Emergency Management (OEM). The objective was to brief residents of Bing’s Manhattan district on preparing themselves for disasters and to publicize the role of the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program. A helpful lure was that attendees received a Red Cross ‘go-bag’ or other emergency supply kit. I was there with other members of the area’s CERT teams to answer citizen questions and help hand out the kits. It turned out such an unexpectedly big crowd showed up that we almost ran out of kits. (This neighborhood is also particularly sensitive to emergency preparedness issues since there have been two fatal construction crane collapses within the year.)  [...]

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