One of the mostÂ interesting and fulfilling parts of my preparedness experience thus farÂ has been my participation in the CommunityÂ Emergency Response Team (CERT) program.Â CERT is aÂ federally-funded program which trains citizensÂ to help the authoritiesÂ 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 ofÂ 1500 New Yorkers.
To join CERT, I completedÂ the 11-week/33-hour trainingÂ at New York’s Roosevelt Island and then joined my localÂ unit, the East SixtiesÂ Neighborhood Association (ESNA-CERT). Thus far, I’ve responded to theÂ plane crash that killed Yankeesâ€™ pitcher Cory Lidle near the East River, handed out disaster guides in 13 different languages,Â played the role of â€œRude Evacuee #1â€ at a major City hurricane drill, and even mixed the hot chocolate at a Red Cross evacuation center. I alsoÂ received special headquarters training so if something serious happens I canÂ man the CERT desk at the Cityâ€™s Â
ÂIn November, I was thrilledÂ to beÂ recognized for my work so far and selected as theÂ â€œReady New Yorker of the Monthâ€ by the Cityâ€™s Office of Emergency Management.
Our most recent activity occurred a couple weeks agoÂ after the serious crane accident on 1st Avenue and 51st Street.Â In the days after the accident, our team wasÂ asked to distribute bottled and hydrant water to area residents whose utilities had not been restored.Â
WABC-TV did a story on theÂ CERT activities for its EyewitnessÂ News broadcast. The link is below.Â You can see my hands filling a bucket at the hydrant and thenÂ carrying cases of water up to apartments.
As you can see in the story, we were not doing anythingÂ major. But we were helping lighten the load on the authorities and the Red Cross. TheÂ residents were thankfulÂ to have ourÂ help and happy to seeÂ their fellow NewÂ YorkersÂ pitching inÂ
The CERT program is clearly a work in progress, but it is very exciting and rewarding to be part of that process.