C.E.R.T. Graduation Ceremony for 33 Volunteers Held in Town Hall
After a six-week long, comprehensive Community Emergency Response Team course, known as C.E.R.T., more than 30 Lakewood residents, all volunteers, graduated this week, bringing the total number of trained C.E.R.T. volunteers in Lakewood to more than 120.
C.E.R.T. courses are designed to educate local residents about disaster preparedness. This course trained individuals in basic disaster and emergency response skills in classroom and in live exercise settings; and the C.ER.T. volunteers were taught how to assist and work with local First Responder Units in the community.
Lakewood Police Chief Rob Lawson, the master of ceremonies for the graduation, presented Rabbi Israel Bursztyn, chaplain for Ocean County Sheriff’s Department and a director of the LCSW (Lakewood Civilian Safety Watch), with a plaque signed by Mayor Menashe Miller and Committeeman Meir Lichtenstein, the Township Committee’s liaison to the Office of Emergency Management (OEM), for his outstanding efforts in organizing the program, securing all the instructors, and overseeing the program.
Deputy OEM Coordinator Rabbi Bursztyn presented each of the 33 graduates with a framed diploma and an identification card issued by the Ocean County Sheriff’s Department, followed by the oath office administered By Ocean County Sheriff Mike Mastronardy.
Police Chief Lawson thanked the instructors and volunteers for their commitment to the program and for the sacrifice of time they devoted to the training. He said that Lakewood began training C.E.R.T. teams four years ago, but this year was the largest graduating class yet. “I’m really confident and optimistic that you will be an asset to the community of Lakewood,” he told the graduates. “These graduates made a big investment of time away from their families and businesses and made a big commitment to the community, and I thank them for that.”
The Chief continued, “We have used C.E.R.T. teams in the past when we’ve had emergencies and our services were overwhelmed. For example, during Hurricane Sandy, we had C.E.R.T. teams doing traffic control at intersections where the lights were out. We’ve used C.E.R.T. teams for traffic control at large events, and they’ve been a tremendous resource for us.”
Senator Robert Singer said, “I can’t stress enough how important this certification means to us in Lakewood…In emergencies we count on volunteers to help us out. You are the heroes of our communities.”
Committeeman Meir Lichtenstein, the Township Committee’s liaison to the office of emergency services that includes the OEM, thanked the New Jersey State Police, Brick EMS, and Ocean County Sheriff’s Department for helping with the training. He said, “It is so gratifying to see volunteers stepping up on behalf of Lakewood. There are C.E.R.T. teams in many towns in Ocean County, but the numbers we have in Lakewood are far larger than other towns.”
Township Committeeman Mike D‘Elia also noted that volunteerism across the country is down – but in Lakewood volunteerism is up and the number of volunteers continues to rise. “I’ve said many times that Lakewood has one of the best emergency response setups in the state.”
Sheriff Mike Mastronardy thanked the volunteers and organizers for their commitment to the citizens of Lakewood. Other dignitaries in attendance were Lakewood Police officers Captain Thomas Langenberger and Sgt. Frank Work, and personnel from Brick EMS who helped train the volunteers, among others.
The C.E.R.T. volunteers will now be able to help during emergencies that overwhelm municipal resources, such as police, fire, public works, among others, when they are activated by Chief Lawson or one of the deputy OEM coordinators.
Some situations in which they can now assist are triage, search and recovery, traffic control, HAZMAT scene situations, evacuations of homes and buildings during emergencies, helping with shelter operations for displaced persons, initial damage assessment, searches for missing persons, staffing First Aid stations for large events, public support at community events, storm spotting and preparation, and any other useful and potentially lifesaving ways to help First Responders.