GREEN BROOK, NJ -- September is National Preparedness Month, which aims to educate and empower Americans to prepare for and respond to all types of emergencies. This year’s theme, Be Disaster Aware, Take Action to Prepare, encourages people to be aware of the disasters that may occur in their area and then take action to be better prepared.

Green Brook’s Citizen Emergency Response Team (CERT) recently graduated 16 new members who will back up first responders during times of emergency.  CERT members are community volunteers who support their home town in being ready for any emergency, large or small. Three of these new recruits are participating in a response drill at the Somerset County Emergency Services in Somerville on Saturday, Sept. 13. 

“We are in the process of starting another CERT class this October for more people to be on our team,” said Green Brook Office of Emergency Management coordinator Derek Reedman, Jr. “We also will be meeting with Watchung CERT to have a partnership if the CERT teams are needed. “

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CERT classes are taught by Reedman, Darlene Breen, Jennifer Reedman, and Green Brook Police fficer Larry Goldstein.

Additionally, as part of the national PrepareAthon! Green Brook’s Office of Emergency Management is helping its community by reviewing the township’s Emergency Operating Plan with new Police Chief G. Christopher Kurz.  Kurz will review the entire plan with his officers, receiving feedback and making adjustments to better protect the community.

America’s PrepareAthon! was launched as a community-based campaign to increase emergency preparedness at the grassroots level by motivating the public to take action through such steps as drills, group discussions and exercises. On April 30, 2014 more than 5 million individuals participated in preparedness activities across the Nation as part of the first America’s PrepareAthon! The second America’s PrepareAthon! Community Day of Action will take place on Sept. 30 and there are a variety of ways for communities to get involved.

Communities can begin planning their PrepareAthon! event by identifying the hazards that could happen in their area and developing their own activity to address those risks. At an individual or workplace level, this might include actions like making a communication plan or building an emergency supply kit.

Communities can take action to prepare by coordinating with local emergency management agencies, first responders, fire, police, or public health departments to develop a community-wide drill. Many communities in earthquake-prone areas around the country will be participating in the Great Shakeout, a worldwide earthquake drill on Oct. 16.

Once communities have identified a preparedness action, they can register their event on the America’s PrepareAthon!  website and join millions of Americans who are doing their part to be more prepared.