The NJ CERT Experience Bringing in People with Disabilities
Two Counties – Two Paths • Bergen County lead the way five years ago • Mercer County offered training in 2008 • Each took a different path • Each had different but positive experience
Bergen County’s Path Information Provided by: Detective GidgetPetry, Bergen County Sherriff’s Office Instrumental in bringing New Jersey’s first CERT class for people with disabilities to reality
Bergen County’s Path • Bergen’s initial purposes in conducting this class were two-fold: • To improve emergency responders’ awareness of providing service to the vast array of individuals with functional needs. • To improve the ability of people with disabilities to prepare for and respond to emergency situations that may occur.
Bergen County’s Path Bergen implemented simple steps for class • The facility where the class was taught was 100% A D A compliant. • Extra instructors were on hand -- 3 students for every 1 instructor ratio • Disability etiquette class was required for all instructors.
Bergen County’s Path • Applications for class allowed for participants to specify what accommodations they needed Plan ahead for these kinds of accommodations -- may impact both planning and budgeting • Transportation was a big issue -- It will ALWAYS be The Big Issue
Bergen County’s Path Basic CERT Course not changed. “You haven’t lived until you see a blind person put out a fire with an extinguisher.” -- Detective GidgetPetry
Mercer County’s Path • County OEM approached in 2005 by advocates -- Finally acted upon in 2008 • Training held in day to ease transportation • Held at accessible housing campus • CERT Coordinator ran most of the course
Mercer County’s Path • Most Recruits used wheelchairs • Most Recruits had backgrounds as either responders or advocates • Recruits knew each other – Many worked together previously
Mercer County’s Path Doreen Robertson – Mercer CERT Coordinator
Contact Information Norman A. Smith ProjectFreedom1@aol.com Scott Ellis Scott.Ellis@pcil.org