New York City is a volatile place, which is part of its allure: each day is different from the next, and it’s impossible to anticipate what will happen at any moment in time. This is why New York is the most exciting place in the world. It is also dangerous place to be unprepared for whatever the world throws our way, but thanks to Community Board 1 Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), Greenpoint/Williamsburg residents can be ready for any disaster, natural or otherwise. On Tuesday evening, the CB1 CERT, with the help of the fire department, held a CPR workshop in Southside Williamsburg for local families.
In a small room on Hewes Street, nearly 20 Williamsburg residents of all ages gathered together to watch a CPR video, get instruction from trained professionals, practice resuscitation exercises on dolls and receive a free city-issued CPR kit.
“Our goal is to go out into the community and teach people how to be prepared for anything,” explained Susana Ramos, one of the chief organizers of the CB1 CERT team, founded in 2007. There are roughly 18 CB1 CERT members, all of whom are Red-Cross certified and are qualified to be “participating partners,” meaning that in case of an emergency that requires evacuation, CB1 CERT members will aid Red Cross and the fire department in setting up and managing disaster relief shelters. “It’s about being ready, in case of a fire, a hurricane, a terrorist attack—any disaster, natural or man-made.”
NYC CERT members undergo an intensive 10-week training program that raises awareness about emergencies and disasters and provides basic response skills needed for fire safety, light search and rescue, disaster medical operations, and traffic control. After graduating, teams support their local communities by assisting with emergency education and response. The CB1 CERT team also participates in educational programming, sending representatives into local grammar schools to facilitate workshops and give presentations to students about safety and preparedness through the Ready New York initiative.
“After I saw what happened in New Orleans I wanted to be prepared, and bring the knowledge into my own community so everyone can know what to expect if something happens” said Lourdes Lebron, a CB1 CERT Team member. Lebron , who has worked as a child care provider for 26 years, is particularly interested in the educational element of CERT, and has given presentations to Nuestros Ninos and PS 319 elementary schools, among others. “The most important thing to teach children—and adults—is not to be afraid.”
In addition to educational workshops, the CB1 CERT team gathers demographic information in building complexes throughout the neighborhood. For example, most recently the CERT team has gone door-to-door in the Lindsey Park Houses, making note of elderly and disabled residents. After making a comprehensive list, the Team will deliver it to the building manager who, in case of a fire or any other disaster warranting emergency evacuation, will have it readily available for the fire department.
September is National Preparedness Month, and the CB1 CERT Team is planning events throughout the month, including an information table at Woodhull Hospital. For more information about how to get involved in the CB1 CERT Team, send an email to Cb1certchief@gmail.com.