NEW YORK -- Don't know what a "Go Bag" is? Perhaps you ought to consider joining the new Community Emergency Response Team certification class being offered on Staten Island this spring by the city Office of Emergency Management.
The 11-week course, set to begin April 1 at New Dorp High School, will educate participants in personal emergency preparedness as well as emergency response skills such as fire safety, search and rescue, basic triage, and crowd control.
CERT teams are made up of community-based volunteers who are OEM-trained in disaster preparedness and basic emergency response skills.
Members are expected to serve their communities by coming to the aid of first responders in a disaster situation.
The class will be conducted by OEM-certified NYPD and FDNY instructors, and features an updated and improved curriculum for 2008.
The weekly three-hour sessions will combine classroom instruction and field exercises to instill and promote a sense of awareness in disaster situations. The course will culminate in a final assessment exercise.
Upon successful completion of the exercise, participants will receive official OEM CERT certification, as well as Go Bag (which, by the way, should consist of a flashlight, photocopies of all your valuable personal information, a dry change of clothes, and non-perishable foods, such as granola bars) courtesy of OEM.
Following certification, individuals will have the opportunity to join one of Staten Island's CERT teams.
Although there are seven teams in Staten Island, Port Richmond CERT will be most closely involved with the new OEM class.
Port Richmond Team Chief John Tidona, in addition to keeping up with his own team's weekly meetings, will closely monitor the OEM class' progression.
"I'm always on the lookout for individuals wanting to give something back to their community," said Mr. Tidona. "I'm hoping this class will enable my team to grow in numbers and strength."
According to Mr. Tidona, participants need no prior experience, professional or volunteer, to register for the class. "That's what's so great about CERT, you can walk in blind," he said.
As devoted as the program is to serving the community, Mr. Tidona says that CERT can have a personal impact for the participant as well. "It's not just a class or a team," he said. "It's a state of awareness. You learn to look at things differently. How would I escape this building if I had to? What people in my immediate surrounding would be most in danger during a disaster? You learn to take care of yourself, then your family, then your community."
Individuals wishing to participate in the class will be subject to an OEM background check.For more information, contact John Tidona at 718-448-7160.