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Public Information Office (609) 882-2000
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July 13, 2005

Gifts for the Givers
NJ Office of Emergency Management gives trailers and equipment
to CERT groups from around the state

Colonel Rick Fuentes, Director of the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management, today supplied those who have given their time and energy to serve their fellow citizens with more tools of the trade for emergency workers. Fuentes, along with Tom O’Reilly from the Office of the Attorney General, presented 24 fully loaded utility trailers to Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) located throughout the state. Representatives from the CERTs were on hand to accept their “gifts” and hear how New Jersey has taken the lead with the most Citizen Corps councils of any state in the nation.

Liz DeGregorio of the Department of Homeland Security, representing the National Citizen Corps Council, and Joe Picciano, Acting Director of FEMA Region 2, also offered some remarks to the trailer recipients and attendees. The 24 trailers were purchased and outfitted with grant money from FEMA and the DHS Citizen Corps program, which is the parent organization for Citizen Corps N.J. and the CERT program. Citizen Corps works to prepare members of the public to serve as an initial response to disasters in their communities.

“Events in London last week unfortunately underscore once again that we must be prepared for the unexpected,” said Attorney General Peter C. Harvey. “I have nothing but praise for our CERT members who have volunteered to help their fellow citizens when disasters of any sort strike. We are pleased to provide them with additional tools that will help them fulfill their critical roles.”

“The fact that New Jersey has the greatest CERT participation in the nation says a lot about our citizens’ concern for their neighbors,” said Colonel Rick Fuentes. “We are excited to have prepared these teams with the training and tools they need to serve in times of disaster.”

Each trailer, valued at more than $3100, contains equipment necessary to set up a mobile command post and triage center. In addition to miscellaneous support items, each unit includes a tent, electric generator, emergency lights, stretchers, rescue devices and medical supplies. Recipients also receive a $1270 check for the customization of the trailer with shelves and additional supplies. The total package is valued at $7576. Additionally, teams across the state were supplied with Motorola portable radios to assist them with communicating with one another in times of crisis.

CERT volunteers organized into teams undergo a thorough eight-week, 20-hour training course at a number of different sites throughout the state. They receive schooling in disaster preparedness, fire suppression, medical operations (triage), search and rescue, disaster psychology, terrorism and team organization. Each team receives a large bag of emergency medical supplies and every graduate is given a basic emergency kit including an identification vest, a hard hat, safety goggles, dust mask, work gloves, a special multi-use tool and a carrying bag.

One year ago, more than 500 state workers completed their CERT training course with a disaster simulation exercise at the Dempster Fire Academy in Mercer County. There they conducted medical operations, put out fires and practiced cribbing (reinforcing unsteady structures). The state workers and all citizen responders are now be an integral part of the state’s answer to disasters, both natural and man-made.

The Citizen Corps Program was originally established by President George Bush to give direction to the spirit of American volunteerism after the tragic events of September 11, 2001. The New Jersey State Citizen Corps Council was begun in 2003 to coordinate the activities of the Citizen Corps Program in our state. Major John Hunt, commander of the State Police Emergency Management Section chairs the council. Also in 2003, SFC Joe Geleta was named as the CERT Coordinator for the New Jersey State Police. Ewing Township started the state’s first CERT in 1998, which was modeled after CERTs created in Los Angeles in 1985.

Teams of CERT volunteers have been used in rescue operations during the recent upper Delaware flooding and in the Burlington County floods of 2004. Volunteers may be called on to aid in the search for lost or kidnapped children, help staff emergency operations centers, guide and direct spontaneous volunteers during major events and assist the Red Cross and other relief organizations with mass care. Volunteers for CERT must be 18 years of age and possess a valid driver’s license. Interested persons should call (609)882-2000, extension 6614 to speak with the State Police CERT coordinator.

At the end of today’s event, the caravan of CERT trailers was hooked up and towed away to their destinations throughout the state. The following is a list of the recipients of the first round of the CERT utility trailers:

East Orange
Burlington County
Mercer County
Passaic County
Sussex County

Jersey City
Cherry Hill
Gloucester County
Morris County
Salem County
Warren County

Atlantic County
Hunterdon County
Ocean County
Somerset County
State of New Jersey

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