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Clark CERT Program Graduates Community Emergency Responders

The town's program started in 2005 and has trained more than 100 people in Community Emergency Response.

At Monday night's Clark Council meeting Director of Emergency Management Jerry Fewkes presented certificates to 20 graduates of Clark's Community Response Training Program, aka CERT.

The program covers topics like general emergency preparedness, basic fire safety, basic medical operations, search and rescue, CERT organization and incident command, and terrorism. It takes place over nine weeks and consists of 24 hours of training. At the conclusion of the classwork, members go through a four-hour hands-on session where they actually put out small fires and practice their search and rescue and medical operations training at the Union County Fire Academy.

"Since we started this program in 2005, we have trained over 100 people in the program," said Fewkes. "I am certain that these people will be better perpared to handle a variety of emergency situations, whether it be just for themselves and their families or if they are volunteering to help out on a township level for their neighbors."

Fewkes explained that Monday night's graduates were from two different CERT class, including one completed in 2011. Many of the 2011 graduates were involved during Hurricane Irene, when Clark was chosen to host a Red Cross shelter. Read our stories on their hard work, and .

Fewkes added that 13 of the graduates were from Springfield, and nearly all of them lived in an area that was heavily affected by Hurricane Irene, which is they were interested in taking the class to learn how to deal with future events.

Fewkes presented certificates of completion to Kathy Christ, Margaret Cordaro, Edgar Martinez, Charles Reul, Becky Rosario, Chris Staunton, Suzanne DiOrio, John Kurek, Ted Kurek, Susan Metz, Doug Metz, John Psotto and Kevin Vogt.

The CERT concept dates back to 1985, when the Los Angeles Fire Department recognized that in the early stages of a major disaster local emergency responders could be overwhelmed, and basic training in disaster survival and rescue skills could improve the ability of community members to help themselves until responders or other assistance arrived. This program, which now exists in every state, is promoted by the Federal Government through the Citizens Corp. program and the NJ State Police Office of Emergency Management. New Jersey presently ranks among the top states in the country based on the number of CERT programs within each state.

Anyone interested in participating in Clark's program should contact the Office of Emergency Management at 732-388-3600, ext. 3007. Applicants must be at least 18-years-old.

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