New CERT program will prepare residents for emergencies

West Milford. When emergencies happen, CERT members can give critical support to first responders, provide immediate assistance to victims and organize volunteers at a disaster site.

| 27 Jul 2021 | 11:30

A goal to organize residents and teach them how to react to help themselves and their neighbors when any kind of emergency threatens them is underway in the Township of West Milford.

A Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) is being organized under the Office of Emergency Management (OEM).

Anyone interested in being trained and participating should send their contact information to CERT is a nationwide initiative.

Steve Kiel, grandson of the late 1960’s West Milford Mayor Gilbert Terhune, and Keil’s co-team partner “Megan” are leaders in establishing CERT in the township. His grandfather and other Terhune family members have been leaders in community efforts for generations.

Kiel and Megan attended a recent Township of West Milford Council meeting and described the program. They invited residents to participate in training programs that will be offered. Mayor Michele Dale and the council members gave them their full support. Councilman Kevin Goodsir spoke of his personal involvement with the CERT volunteers.

A goal of the local CERT leaders is to have the whole community prepared for emergencies.

‘Powerhouse for the Community’

The CERT program helps train people to be better prepared to respond to emergency situations in their communities. When emergencies happen CERT members can give critical support to first responders, provide immediate assistance to victims and organize spontaneous volunteers at a disaster site. CERT members can also help with non emergency projects that assist improving the safety of the community.

Megan described the program as a “Powerhouse for the Community.” There have been 997 hours of training so far with 23 members initially completing requirements for certification and three more people signed up to participate in a fall course.

She is working to meet requirements as a certified trainer and plans teach participants.

CERT volunteers are currently meeting with the West Milford First Aid Squad to learn CPR and will next meet with the Search and Rescue group to learn from them.

Reacting to emergencies large and small since 1985

CERT was first developed in Los Angeles in 1985 to cope with major disasters. In 1993 it went national. There are 50 states in the nation and territories with CERT programs for preparedness with 600,000 people already trained to handle disaster emergencies.

Organizers of the latest effort have said that events of 9/11 must never be forgotten. They said also not forgotten is how the spirit of America was awakened that day when citizens came forth to volunteer their services in the nation’s time of great emergency. President George W. Bush heralded this spirit of volunteerism with the Citizens Corps Program of which CERT is a part.

CERT volunteers have been used to search for lost or handicapped children, and at staff emergency operation centers and for monitoring events. They have been active for emergency operations center security, driving, providing information, assisting disabled visitors, and assisting Red Cross and other relief organizations for mass care.