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COUNTYCOLLEGE FIRST TO HOLD "CERT" TRAINING PROGRAM Volunteers Learn Skills in Effective Emergency Response

(Woodbury) - Freeholder Director Stephen M. Sweeney and Freeholder Helene M. Reed, Liaison to Emergency Response announced today that Gloucester County College was the first community college in the state to hold a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training program. The program educated 26 volunteers on being better prepared to respond to emergency situations in their communities.

Freeholder Director Stephen M. Sweeney said, "The CERT program trains volunteers in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization and disaster medical operations." Sweeney stated, "In the event of an emergency situation, the volunteers will be trained to assist those in need effectively and efficiently while waiting for help."

"A disaster, such as a flood, a fire or a hazardous spill, an act of nature or an act of terrorism is something that can strike at any time," said Freeholder Helene M. Reed, Liaison to Emergency Response. "After the calamity of 9-11 municipalities organized CERT's to have community based citizen volunteers prepared to act during a disaster. The volunteers can provide immediate assistance to victims, assist in organizing the on site volunteers and provide useful information or critical support to first responders," said Reed.

The CERT program at Gloucester County College was instructed by Gloucester County's Emergency Response Coordinator Len Clark, and State Police Sergeant Robert Little. The 26 volunteers received 27 hours of training over a 2 month span. The volunteers were College, Vocational Technology and Special Service school district staff members.

Another CERT training program is scheduled for May 2005. The volunteers will again be recruited in house.

The CERT program is federally funding by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which is part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). FEMA strives to prepare the nation for all hazards and effectively manage federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident. FEMA has set a goal of reaching over 400,000 United States citizens through the CERT program.