Servant leadership for the Seton Hall community extends beyond the
campus gates. One inspiring example is our Community Emergency Response
Team (CERT), which is ready to respond if a crisis strikes on campus or
in our local community.
Tom Giordano, Assistant Director for Emergency Management and leader of CERT, at a CERT booth in August 2012.
CERT was first developed and implemented by the Los Angeles City Fire
Department (LAFD) in 1985, as a result of scarce medical services after
major disasters. Today, CERT volunteers assemble around the country to
assist special workforces during crisis.
Speaking about disaster response, Thomas Giordano, Assistant Director
for Emergency Management and the leader of CERT at the University said,
“People blocked by debris didn’t get assistance for days. The fire
department created a training program for people to take care of
themselves until trained responders arrived.”
While many municipalities have CERT, the University has a team of its
own. Under Giordano’s leadership since 2008 CERT membership at the
University has grown to include 60 staff and faculty, and 41 students.
CERT provides training for staff, faculty and students three times a
year –fall, spring and summer. Over the course of four days, trainees
discuss topics from disaster preparedness to fire safety through
lectures and simulated injury exercises.
“The life skills learned through CERT gives you an idea on how to
react during crisis,” said Giordano. “They’re good skills to know.”
Adam Loehner, Director of Community Relations in the department of
Government Relations, said the lessons learned during CERT training are
immeasurable. “Now more people can be part of the solution during a
crisis,” he added.
Sofia Konvitz, a junior considering a career in law enforcement,
agrees. “Since taking CERT, “she explains, “I have been much more aware
of my surroundings. I think it's vital that we all know what to do in an
emergency situation because we never know what life will throw at us.”
CERT has been instrumental in recent years. Members have helped
staff the University’s Emergency Operations Center and provided first
aid capability in the residence halls during Hurricane Irene. Volunteers
helped staff the Vaccine Point of Distribution during the H1N1 Pandemic
and launched the SHU CODE BLUE emergency preparedness campaign, where
members assisted in the distribution of CODE BLUE flash drives
containing emergency preparedness information to the University
community. CERT volunteers ran the “Spin the Wheel” safety game for
children attending the event during South Orange National Night Out in
Joseph Pastino, who completed his basic training course in 2010, now
serves as a CERT Team Leader in his hometown of North Arlington as a
result of his extensive experiences at the University.
“I am in the process of becoming a fully trained EMT,” said Pastino, a
returning alum pursing a public administration graduate degree. “It is
safe to say that emergency management is a passion of mine.”
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