NEW YORK — Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Deputy Mayor for Operations Cas Holloway, Office of Emergency Management Commissioner Joseph Bruno and Fire Commissioner Salvatore Cassano presided earlier this week over a graduation ceremony for more than 100 new Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) volunteers.
CERT teams support their local communities by assisting in emergency preparedness and response and educating their communities about emergency preparedness. The graduates recently completed an intensive, 10-week training program in disaster preparedness and basic emergency response skills.
Deputy Mayor Holloway and Commissioner Bruno presented Kim Teixeira, a CERT team chief, with the second annual John D. Solomon NYC CERT Award for Exemplary Service in Emergency Preparedness Education. The award was introduced last year to honor the late John D. Solomon, a CERT member who labored tirelessly to involve his community in his preparedness efforts. The mayor also was joined at the ceremony at the Federal Reserve by city Chief Service Officer Diahann Billings-Burford and NYPD Deputy Inspector Phylis S. Byrne.
“CERT volunteers are a tremendous asset to New York City, and today’s graduates will undoubtedly continue to build on the program’s strong history of keeping neighborhoods safe and prepared for emergencies,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “Last summer during Hurricane Irene, CERT members were some of the unsung heroes of the city’s response, assisting their neighbors in city shelters and helping organize their fellow volunteers at the city’s Emergency Operations Center.”
“We are extremely grateful to the graduating class and to all CERT volunteers for their commitment to service,” said Bruno, a former Brooklyn Supreme Court justice. “Thanks to this dedicated group of individuals, a program that began with 106 members has blossomed into a network of 1,500 volunteers who devote their personal time to protect the safety of their neighbors.”
“The Community Emergency Response Team is one of the reasons New York City is safer than it has ever been before,” said Cassano. “CERT volunteers take an active role in their community, receive training from first responders, and stand ready to assist their neighbors when the need arises.”
In 2011, Bloomberg and Bruno introduced a new emergency preparedness award to honor the late John D. Solomon, a CERT member who made emergency preparedness his life’s work. Solomon was an active member of his team on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. He also maintained a preparedness blog, had begun work on a family preparedness book and wrote several newspaper articles on the topic.
Throughout his illness, Solomon remained steadfast in his dedication to raise awareness of the need to prepare our families, neighbors, workplaces and communities for all hazards. The John D. Solomon NYC CERT Award for Exemplary Service in Emergency Preparedness Education is presented annually to a CERT member who embodies his enthusiasm for volunteerism and purposeful engagement to make their communities better prepared for emergencies.
Solomon’s widow, Abby, joined Deputy Mayor Holloway and Commissioner Bruno in presenting this year’s award to CERT Team Chief Kim Teixeira. His parents, Richard and Ann, and his brother, James, were also in attendance.
Teixeira joined the CERT program in 2005 and currently leads a team of 25 volunteers in Queens. Since joining CERT, she has assisted in the city’s response to a number of emergencies including the 2006 Astoria blackout, and, this past summer, Hurricane Irene. In addition to assisting during emergencies, Teixeira has given dozens of Ready New York emergency preparedness presentations in her community, and hosted first responders and local leaders at team meetings to educate them about CERT.
The CERT program started in 2003 with 106 volunteers. Today, the City has 57 CERT teams and more than 1,500 volunteers representing all five boroughs. New York City CERT volunteers participate in a 10-week training program in disaster preparedness and basic emergency response skills taught by active and retired members of the Police and Fire Departments. After completing training that includes lessons in fire safety, search and rescue, first aid and triage, CERTs support their local communities by assisting city agencies that prepare for and respond to emergencies.
January 17, 2012 - 4:23pm