Sheriff’s Office unveils new Teen CERT Explorer program

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By MICHAEL BENAVIDES
Staff Writer

New Jersey’s first Teen Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Explorer Post No. 2 program will be sponsored in Monmouth County.

The  Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) will hold an information session for the Teen CERT Explorer Post No. 2 program on April 6.

Interested teenagers and their parents are invited to this meeting that will start at 7 p.m. at the MCSO Office Public Safety Center, 2500 Kozloski Rd., Freehold. Participants have until 4 p.m. on April 6 to register for the event.

Cynthia Scott, who is the public information officer for the MCSO, said that its Teen CERT program was the first in the state under the Explorer Post’s umbrella.

“There are other Teen CERT programs, but we are unaware of any that are under the Explorer Post umbrella,” Scott said.

The program is a National Homeland Security initiative aimed at making our communities safer by training teens to assist in preparing for, responding to and recovering from emergencies or disasters, according to the release

“Under the direction of the MCSO and the Monmouth County’s Office of Emergency Management (OEM), the Teen CERT program will provide critical support to our overall public safety mission,” Monmouth County Sheriff Shaun Golden said. “It is also another opportunity for our teenagers to become involved in the community while providing valuable life experience and possible career direction.”

According to the press release from the MCSO, on Feb. 7, Golden filed a charter application with the Monmouth Council Boy Scouts of America to form the Teen CERT Explorer Post No. 2. Teen CERT will be managed by OEM.

The release states that the program is open to Monmouth County residents between the ages of 14 and 20 as well as adults over the age of 21 who might be interested in serving as an adult leader.

The training consists of approximately 22 hours and covers basic medical aid, light search and rescue, firefighting, CERT organization, disaster preparedness, disaster psychology and a final exercise scenario, according to the release.

Scott said most of the Teen CERT programs will be held at the MCSO’s Public Safety Center in Freehold. She said the training for the Teen Cert program will begin at the end of April.

“Most of the classes will be held at the MCSO’s Public Safety Center in Freehold. However, the fire block will be held at the Monmouth County Fire Academy. We plan to start by the end of April and expect to have graduation in early June,” Scott said.

During an interview on March 28, Golden said that the Teen CERT program was created as a continuing effort to change the culture of disaster preparedness in Monmouth County.

“The program is being created for a few reasons. It was created as a continuing effort to change the culture of preparedness within the county. We already have a senior program and by implementing Teen CERT, we are targeting multiple age groups, encouraging them to take the necessary preparedness actions,” Golden said.

“It was also created to provide the teenagers with a firsthand look at emergency management and public safety in an effort to build our future leaders within the field. It will assist Monmouth County OEM in our preparedness, response mitigation and recovery efforts. Lastly, it provides another mechanism for our teenagers to become involved in the  community by giving them an avenue to build life skills,” Golden said.

Golden said the Teen CERT program is a great way for teenagers to gain valuable life skills in emergency management and preparedness.

“This is a great way for the teenagers to get exposure to emergency management/preparedness and other public safety agencies.” Golden said. “The program will provide participants with valuable life skills they will retain forever, all while providing an invaluable service to Monmouth County and municipalities.”

Golden said the program already have six members.

“The program is just beginning. Presently, we have six members who were recruited in order to submit our Explorer Post charter application,” Golden said.

Golden said he was confident that the Teen CERT program will succeed.

“We are confident that the program will succeed. The participants will be provided with a structured program that is built on nationally recognized training, aimed at raising the level of preparedness. With each person that we accomplish this task for, it is a win for us,” Golden said.

“We expect the participants of this program to assist MCOEM in our public outreach programs by serving as volunteers during training exercises, assisting with logistics and when applicable assisting in various roles during emergencies or disasters. As the program grows, we expect it will develop some social or fun activities, and possibly down the road, be able to offer small scholarships to those participants that choose a public safety track in college,” Golden said.

Interested participants are asked to reserve their spot for the April 6 session by emailing TEENCERT@mcsonj.org or calling 732-431-7400, ext. 1801.