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Volunteer Opportunities

Community Emergency Response Team Volunteers
The West Orange Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) is a volunteer group of residents serving the Township of West Orange, Essex County, New Jersey. Team members agree to assist their neighbors and township during an emergency or disaster. Citizen Corps, a federal program under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, has defined CERT as: "CERT is about readiness, people helping people, rescuer safety, and doing the greatest good for the greatest number. CERT is a positive and realistic approach to emergency and disaster situations where citizens will be initially on their own and their actions can make a difference."  In West Orange, CERT promotes disaster preparation and readiness before a disaster strikes so that you, your family, and your neighbors are better equipped to deal with the challenges an emergency or disaster brings.

Why Join CERT?
We train to provide support to first responders, organize other volunteers in the event of a disaster, and provide reliable information to first responders when the scope of a disaster may outpace their ability to gather information on their own. Our members are trained in Basic First Aid, Family Disaster Preparedness, Basic Medical Operations, CERT Operations, Disaster Mental Health, and Basic Emergency Management in order to work with uniformed professionals in the event of an emergency or disaster.  We also promote awareness, preparedness, and readiness through education and by assisting West Orange residents to prepare for potential emergencies, establish plans, and prepare supplies and helpful tools such as a radio, flashlight, and batteries.

CERT in West Orange
West Orange primarily faces the threat of extreme weather conditions, which includes but is not limited to winter storms and hurricanes which can create severe storm activity.  These kinds of storms can greatly impact travel, cause power outages, property damage or flash flooding. In these situations, having volunteers who can help their neighbors immediately following the storm events will help keep professional responders free to help where they are most needed. By providing an established group for the Township to reach out to during emergencies, communications can be streamlined and the Township can know there is a dedicated group of individuals who are committed to helping with preparation and recovery when asked.

Citizens Corps provides a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) site that answers many common questions people have about CERT.  You can also read more about the history of the CERT concept at the Citizen Corps site

How can I contribute?
You are:

  • At least 18 years old
  • Willing to attend regular meetings, training, and deployment events
  • Looking for a way to assist your neighbors and the town during an emergency
  • A West Orange resident (or your surrounding town does not have a CERT program)
  • Willing to submit to a background check

You are not:

  • Expected to risk your safety as part of CERT
  • Looking to be considered a first responder

To get more information potential volunteers are welcome to contact us or attend our monthly meetings, which are typically held the second Wednesday of every month at the West Orange Office of Emergency Management Operation Center, located at 25 Mt. Pleasant Place at 7 pm.  Meeting dates will be posted as News Items below.

West Orange CERT table of Organization

In West Orange, CERT is overseen under the direction of the Office of Emergency Management, as is overseen by the West Orange Fire Department.  Our chain of command is through Fire Department Officers, Deputy Fire Chief Paul Wannemacher and Fire Captain Abdur Yasin.                                                       

The West Orange CERT Officers, each elected for a term of 2 years, (currently from September 2014 to September 2016) are the following:

Ken Stele

Deputy Director
Matt Dragon

Ben Jakubovic
Debra Boyle
Erricka Kearney
Hedy Messinger
Karen Bonislawski
Leede A. deLagarde II
Lucian Wondolowski

CERT in West Orange

 In West Orange, CERT has helped:

  • Teach residents how to prepare their family for emergencies
  • Perform tasks within our scope of training allowing the Township’s First Responders to handle larger incidents during emergencies
  • Close roads for parades and races/walks
  • Assist Township Public Safety Agencies with overall scene safety during town wide events
  • Staff shelters during emergencies

 We also take pride in training our members beyond CERT BASIC training:

  • Emergency Sheltering and Medical/Special Needs Sheltering
  • CPR/AED/First Aid
  • Firefighter/Large Incident Rehabilitation
  • Wilderness Search

 Time commitment:

  • 10 - 2 hour meetings/training sessions a year
  • 5 - 4 hour classes for BASIC training
  • 5 - 4 hour Planned Deployments a year


Interested? Come to a meeting.  We think you’ll like what you see.