‘Disaster’ in Downtown Brooklyn: CERT volunteers train on Cadman Plaza East

July 25, 2013 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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Bodies littered a street in Downtown Brooklyn on Tuesday evening, and incoherent victims screamed in pain and begged rescuers to come to their aid.

The disaster was simulated, but the scenario was a familiar one to those who lived through 9/11, Superstorm Sandy or the Boston Marathon bombings.

As bystanders lined a stretch of Cadman Plaza East between the Brooklyn Bridge and the Federal Courthouse, this summer’s crop of CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) volunteers triaged the “victims” and put out flames.

Some of the bodies littering the street were life-sized dummies wearing tags describing their injuries. Others were living, breathing humans — and some of those were harder to handle than the dummies. “Help me, I’m bleeding, I’m hurt!” one man yelled aggressively, as other, more seriously injured victims lay silent. One man appeared to be unhurt as he walked among the rescuers, but upon questioning it appeared he was in shock.

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It was all part of the intense ten-week training CERT members receive from the Fire and Police departments under the direction of OEM. “New CERT members must go through real life fire and disaster simulation drills before they graduate,” OEM spokesperson Christopher Miller told the Brooklyn Eagle.

In a real disaster, CERT members assist first responders in a number of ways, Miller said. For example, “OEM asked CERT members to hand out water during the last heat wave,” he said. “We might ask them to direct traffic in case of a mass power outage.”

CERT training takes place three times a year, Miller said. “CERT members are dedicated volunteers and have a lot of investment in the community. We encourage everyone to apply.”

To learn more about the CERT program, visit

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