Alison Fung began volunteering as a nine-year-old in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in 2012, and her parents later became members of the Hoboken CERT. With volunteering options limited for youth, her interest in preparedness and response inspired Alison to begin a Teen CERT program.
"When Hurricane Sandy hit, my whole family was part of the volunteer recovery effort. When my father, sister and I worked one of the CERT PODs (point of distribution), I felt some control over this disaster, and like I was doing something to help the community," said Fung. "It was then that I became interested in bringing a CERT program for the youth of Hoboken. Eight years later, I am finally in a position to do this as my Gold Award project for Girl Scouts."
Due to COVID restrictions, the program’s March 2020 launch was initially delayed, but Alison worked in the call center, delivered food, and gathered a group of teens to assemble 3D printed face shields for first responders. Eventually, the class took shape online through virtual training. The inaugural class has just completed 3 weeks of core training and is now moving on to learn about ICS (Incident Command System) and taking online FEMA exams. As each trainee completes a session and exam for a course, they receive a FEMA certificate.
The Hoboken CERT program educates people of all ages about disaster preparedness and trains Hoboken residents in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations. Using that training, CERT members can assist others in their neighborhood or workplace following an event when professional responders are not immediately available to help. CERT members also are encouraged to support emergency response agencies by taking a more active role in emergency preparedness projects in their community.
Hoboken CERT has been instrumental in coordinating the response to COVID-19, and has had a busy week dealing with the aftermath of Tropical Storm Isaias.
"Throughout COVID-19 and several other Hoboken emergencies, the Community Emergency Response Team has played an integral role in keeping our community safe, demonstrating why they are one of the best volunteer operations in the entire tri-state area," said Mayor Ravi Bhalla. "The program they have set up with the younger members of our community is second to none, and I can think of no better leaders for our students to learn from. I extend my congratulations to all of the CERT members for this well-deserved national recognition from FEMA."
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