Page 6 THE VILLADOM TIMES III • September 23, 2009 Ho-Ho-Kus TEEN CERT program launched by Jennifer Crusco Nearly five years after he helped launch the Ho-Ho-Kus Community Emergency Response Team, CERT Program Manager Stanley Kober has announced New Jersey’s recent initiation of TEEN CERT. “We’ve been asked a number of times by parents if their young people could join, and we’ve had to say no in the past because the age for CERT members was 18 in New Jersey because of liability issues. Now I can say, ‘You asked for it, and it’s here,’” Kober said. Those between the ages of 13 and 17 may now attend the training course with the written permission of a parent or guardian. Teens will enroll in the same basic course of instruction as those 18 and over, and will train alongside adult CERT volunteers. However, once the teens are certified, they will not be doing the same work as those who are 18 and over unless written permission is provided; it’s all within the parents’ or guardians’ discretion, Kober explained. The upcoming training course at the Bergen County Law & Public Safety Institute in Mahwah will begin Oct. 7. Ho-Ho-Kus teens between the ages of 13 and 17 who wish to attend this course and join the Ho-Ho-Kus CERT, with their parents’ or guardians’ written permission, should immediately contact Kober at (201) 445-1121 for the application and paperwork. Kober first put out a call for adult CERT volunteers in late 2004, and his cadre of emergency responders has been growing ever since. CERT members are trained in disaster survival and rescue skills. In the event of an emergency, these volunteers stand the gap before “first responders” arrive on the scene. The CERT program, which is part of the Citizen Corps Program, was developed in Los Angeles, California in 1985. The goal was to have community members available to assist others in the event of a widespread disaster. The Los Angeles Fire Department began to assemble teams whose members were trained in disaster survival and basic first aid. CERT members were then able to aid citizens until emergency personnel could arrive on the scene. In an emergency, CERTs might be called upon to search for lost or kidnapped individuals, promote community awareness of hazards and preparedness measures, assist in evacuations and traffic control, staff emergency operations centers and shelters, provide first aid, and assist with search and rescue operations. Training classes, which are funded by federal taxes, consist of eight sessions (a total of 20-24 hours) at the Bergen County Law & Public Safety Institute. The courses are taught by emergency responders, including firefighters, emergency medical, and law enforcement personnel. Sessions include information on disaster preparedness, the impact of disasters on infrastructure, identification and reduction of potential hazards, basic fire suppression, treatment strategies for life-threatening conditions, the principles of triage, and complete patient assessment and treatment for a variety of injuries. Coursework also includes search and rescue techniques, post-disaster psychology, CERT organization, decision-making, documentation, an overview on terrorism, and a disaster simulation in an environment similar to the participants’ community. Adult CERT volunteers are also welcome to contact Kober at the above telephone number. Ho-Ho-Kus CERT personnel were among the hundreds of Community Emergency Response Team volunteers from Bergen County who descended upon Northern Valley Regional High School in Demarest for an indoor exercise on Sept. 12. Participants learned how to set up and operate a shelter for people and their pets, and how to manage various requirements for registration, accountability, feeding, first aid, and housing shelter residents in accordance with American Red Cross guidelines. This exercise was the first of its kind conducted for CERT volunteers by the Bergen County Office of Emergency Management and is part of a statewide set of exercises being conducted in New Jersey during September, Disaster Preparedness Month. 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