Six FDNY members will fly to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on June 7 to help Haitians build a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). The effort is in response to the continued need for support in Haiti following the magnitude 7.0 earthquake that devastated the region in January.
During the two-week deployment, the 12-member team will train up to 400 locals in fire safety, first aid, triage, strategies to combat civil unrest, light search and rescue, public health, water safety and disaster psychology.
"The challenges that face the Haitian people are tremendous," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said during a press conference in front of Diaspora Community Center in Brooklyn on June 1. "We're eager to help in any way we can. We don't want to forget."
The deployed FDNY members include: Lt. William Croak (L-170), FF Yves Telemaque (E-257), FF Jean Tanis (E-285), FF Roberson Aupont (E-14), EMT Souffrant Diquence (B-15), EMT Vladimir Kernizan (B-17) and FF Umberto Matieu (L-166) will serve as an alternate.
The firefighters speak Haitian-Creole and will be instructing CERT trainees in fire suppression and light search and rescue. The FDNY EMS members will teach first aid and triage.
"We want to transform the Haitian community into a self-help group," Chief of Department Edward Kilduff said. "This will compliment the mission in Haiti and really make a difference. And it shows that New York City cares."
The program in Haiti will be taught to classes of 40 to 50 people over a 10-day period. It will be based on the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) national CERT curriculum, but tweaked to meet the needs of the Haitian population.
"I'm happy to go back to help," said FF Robertson Aupont from Engine 14. The Firefighter already has been to Haiti twice since the earthquake, working in a hospital. "They need a lot of help."
Firefighter Jean Tanis from Engine 285, who has family in Haiti, said, "I look forward to going. I want to help in any way I can. I want to be there."
CERT was first developed in 1985 by the City of Los Angeles Fire Department. The New York City CERT program started in 2003, with 106 volunteers. It has since grown to 56 teams with more than 1,200 volunteers - with each taking part in a 10-week training program in disaster preparedness and basic emergency response skills taught by active and retired personnel of the New York City Fire and Police departments.
After completion of their training, CERT members support their communities by assisting City agencies that prepare for and respond to emergencies.