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Elmsford Builds CERT Program Draws Avid Volunteers

Elmsford's new CERT members are sworn in at Village Hall on Oct. 2. Photo Credit: Anthony Florio/Elmsford Schools
Elmsford's new CERT members are ready to help when an emergency hits. Photo Credit: Anthony Florio/Elmsford Schools

ELMSFORD, N.Y. -- Elaine and Jim Jensen couldn't stand by and hunker down after seeing the damage caused by Super Storm Sandy last year, so the Elmsford couple reached out to help any way they could.

Last week, after following through on a promise to volunteer their help to neighbors when trouble hit their community, the Jensens joined a group of villagers as new members of the local Community Emergency Response Team in a ceremony at Village Hall.

"I have for years been interested in getting some folks together to volunteer  to help in storms or other events here in town," Elaine Jensen said. "I think super storm Sandy finally cinched it for me and I asked the Mayor (Robert Williams) if there was something we could put together. The next thing I knew we had the chance to sign up for CERT training."

Headed by Board Trustee Raymond Cordi, who managed the CERT members training and outfitted the group with their supplies, the group is now officially authorized.

The Trustees and I are very excited to have the CERT Members join the Village family of volunteers," Mayor Robert Williams said. "It is a big commitment and we appreciate them wanting to assist us in a time of an emergency."

Debra Williams, who happens to be married to the mayor, heard the call and joined the team. Williams, an Assistant Team Leader, said civilian assistance is needed to help professional emergency workers after disaster hits.

"The training was very good," Williams said. "We were taught a lot of different things. I hope to be able to provide assistance to the Village during an emergency to be able to help in areas where the Professional Emergency Personnel were used.

Williams said the CERT members could man shelters and do community outreach while police and other personnel handled emergencies

"We could go door to door to check on the well being of people during the power outages, like the police constables do now and report back to headquarters if something is needed," Williams said.

The Jensens, who were armed with chain saws and other tools just waiting for an opportunity to lend their hands, are now trained for the next Sandy or Irene.

"The training was great for me and Jim," Elaine Jensen said. "We had fun and challenged ourselves to do things we had never done before, like handling a fire extinguisher and splinting someone's leg. I really enjoyed the first aid class and Jim enjoyed the fire safety class the best. The triage class was also an eye opener because it became obvious that first responders can not help everyone. We learned who to help and who to assign to help others."

And standing ready to help the community as the new CERT members, who also include Team Leader Barbara Eannazzo, Ass. Team Leader Olivia Smithson, Tara Boyan-Gallagher, Giovanna Carreno, Jessica Flores, June Moore, John P. Pecora and Steven Shaver.

"We have some incredible folks here in town and the group that came out of the training is diverse and together, but most of all willing," Jensen said.

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