Teaneck Explores Volunteer Emergency Team

Volunteer group could help in disasters and emergency preparedness efforts. Township officials were in the early stages of gathering information on the idea.

The Township Council on Tuesday is set to discuss the possibility of forming a volunteer emergency response team that could aid Teaneck in major disasters. 

The group, called a Community Emergency Response Team, is a widely-used federal program designed to offer basic training for volunteers to prepare and help respond to various incidents. 

"CERT members give critical support to first responders in emergencies, provide immediate assistance to victims, organize spontaneous volunteers at a disaster site and collect disaster intelligence to support first responder efforts," according to the state's Office of Emergency Management

The free CERT training is typically about 20 hours, in two to four hour blocks over weeks or months, according to the state. 

Councilman Yitz Stern, who works at the county's public safety academy where training is offered, proposed looking into the concept at a December council meeting and officials have been gathering more information on the idea. 

The volunteer team is not designed to replace professional police, fire and medical responders. CERT members in Mahwah have aided in gathering data after flood waters devastated nearby communities, while the Little Ferry CERT was recently honored for its help during Superstorm Sandy. 

Township residents have called for new methods of emergency communication after Superstorm Sandy left most of town without power for days. The town's community policing squad has held emergency seminars for the public, and the township began using social media to update residents. 


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Art Vatsky January 07, 2013 at 10:22 AM
Noah: The Patch announced the public emergency seminars but they were scheduled in early November, exactly when Teaneck was experiencing and recovering from Hurricane Sandy. Were the meetings actually held? You have no story on that. How many residents attended?
Art Vatsky January 07, 2013 at 10:31 AM
Kudos to Yitz Stern for suggesting this CERT program. Wish it had been suggested earlier after our prior storms. Also, what is happening with access to Teaneck's Emergency Response Plan? Why is the public being denied access to it? Will CERT members be allowed to see it? Besides general storm damage, the other large risk in Teaneck is a train derailment on the CSX West Shore Line. This is a low probability event but also large and one that comes without warning. I hope that CERT members near the rail line get additional training for that contingency.
Barbara Ley Toffler January 07, 2013 at 01:17 PM
YES!!! This kind of volunteer group is something the residents have long wanted. Now-- Council-- please direct the Manager to work with FEMA to offer our residents emergency shelter at the armory while setting up the Rodda Center as a town emergency shelter. There are volunteers ready to go out and solicit donations of blankets, pillows, diapers, water, etc etc. great first step!!!
Barbara Ley Toffler January 07, 2013 at 01:42 PM
Also!-- Volunteer Emergency Team should have equal representation from each of Teaneck's four quadrants. This representation will allow for choices like Block Captains and other communications to be relatively easily managed and will enable emergency team volunteers to get to know people in their quadrant.


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