Community Emergency Response Team requested by Aldermen

On February 20, 2013, in Latest News, by The Somerville Times

The City of Somerville could benefit greatly by implementing FEMA’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training program, according to advocates such as the Board of Aldermen.

The City of Somerville could benefit greatly by implementing FEMA’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training program, according to advocates such as the Board of Aldermen.

By Jim Clark

The Somerville Board of Alderman, at their meeting on Feb. 14, formally requested that the mayor implement a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) in the city.

The volunteer citizen support group, which is part of FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Administration), would assist city emergency response efforts during emergency or disaster situations.

According to Citizen Corps, a FEMA sponsored organization, the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Program educates people about disaster preparedness for hazards that may impact their area and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations. Using the training learned in the classroom and during exercises, 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.

Speaking in favor of the request, Alderman At Large Connolly said, “I think after this past storm, wouldn’t it have been nice to have additional people that might have been able to assist with clearing hydrants on streets and to assist with any particular medical emergencies?” Connolly went on to point out, “FEMA, through its subsidiary Citizen Corps, has funds available for local governments to have a Community Emergency Response Team. These funds are used to help train interested individuals in the community who want to assist in disaster areas.”

“I’m asking the Administration to take a look at this,” Connolly stated. “I’d like this item sent to the Committee on Public Health and Public Safety, and request that the Chief of Police, the Chief of the Fire Department, the DPW Director and the mayor, that they take a look at this as a way to assist the City of Somerville when there is a major disaster or difficulty.”

The Alderman At Large reminded the Board of the 800 volunteers who lent aid during the recent Mexico City earthquake, whereby some 100 of them lost their lives trying to pull victims from the debris because of a lack of training.

“FEMA is basically giving some opportunity to take volunteers from the community who might be willing to participate and help in a major disaster situation,” said Connolly. “I think it’s a great opportunity for the city to explore.”

The request was approved by the Board without objection. The matter will go before Committee for further study and discussion.

More information about the CERT program can be found on its website:



1 Response » to “Community Emergency Response Team requested by Aldermen”

  1. j connelly says:

    I proudly volunteered for 30 years on the Somerville Auxiliaary Fire Dept.
    We served 2 nights a week, one on the Fire Ambulance that provided FREE service to many citizens over the years. The 2nd night was either on the Lighting Plant or Engine 9, which either covered a Somerville Firehouse or responded to the fire/incident Lighting the scene) We were the fire fighters who pumped out the flooded cellars of thousands of homes. When the east end of the city flooded, we would be pumping homes for 2 or more days. We’d put in many sleepless hours & then have to go to our regular job that day. We trained with Deputies from the SFD and from the Academy. We had certified EMTs. We did some drills @ Boston Fire’s Academy on Moon Island.

    Likewise the city also had the Auxiliary Police, who protected public bldgs
    and assisted the Somerville Police for other incidents like traffic control, as requested. There was also a radio group that operated equipment to move messages in times of emergency. They all came under the jurisdiction of the Emergency Management Agency (Civil Defense).

    I used to love it at budget time. A lot of the politicians did not even know we existed. We got a whopping budget of one or two thousand a year and that money went for equipment. We, volunteers had to buy our own turnoutcoat/boots/helmet/gloves, which back then cost about $300-$400.
    We had to fight to make sure they covered us with insurance in case we were injured.

    There were about 35 men/women on the Aux. Fire and almost double that number on the Aux. Police. The only mayors that appreciated these volunteers were Mayor Brennan, Mayor August, and the best was Gene Brune. They worked to increase our budgets. Mayor Brune would send letters thanking the volunteers when a large incident occurred. When the large chemical spill occurred in the B&M RR yard. Mayor Brune was right down there with the firefighters. Also we no longer had to pay out of our own pocket for gear.

    Today it is a whole new ballgame. Because of the economy there are way less volunteers serving on the auxiliaries. The number is down drastically. These tough economic times, both husbands/wives/partners are working 2 or more jobs to survive. There used to be incentives, like points for serving on the Auxiliaries when you took the civil service exam but the politicians made sure that disappeared as their ‘hacks’ dont volunteer. The only volunteering the ‘hacks’ do is standing w/signs @ election time to save their own jobs.

    When nuclear threat was the big thing, FEMA reviewed emergency evacuation plans for the cities, when they informed all the elected official that they would remain in the city, they all objected and the FEMA guy told them that the Military Police would be on hand to make sure the elected officials did not leave. Talk about unhappy campers!

    Why should people volunteer while the politicians cry poor mouth about the budget but these same politicians ALL make sure they get themselves PAY RAISES during these “tough fiscal times”

Leave a Reply