Free emergency training for Downtowners

By Chad Smith

In its efforts to attract more members to ensure a safer neighborhood, the Community Emergency Response Team of Lower Manhattan will be offering free training courses for anyone who lives or works in the Downtown area.

CERT provides citizens with the basic skills necessary to respond to their community’s needs in the aftermath of a natural or man-made disaster when first responder emergency services are not immediately available.

“Community members are essential in this type of group,” said Sidney Baumgarten, founder of Battery Park City’s CERT. Although the Downtown CERT draws many professionals from the medical world, like an N.Y.U. pediatrician as well as several working E.M.T.’s and nurses, lay citizens shouldn’t be discouraged.

“We even have a woman who is wheelchair-bound,” said Baumgarten. “In case of an emergency, she can she can go into the command center and chart the progress of the CERT teams, work on the logs or make phone calls.”

The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation’s plans to dismantle the badly damaged former Deutsche Bank building at 130 Liberty St. — a complicated and potentially dangerous project — has heightened concerns about community preparedness near the World Trade Center site.

“The L.M.D.C approached us, and we were glad to help,” said Baumgarten. The L.M.D.C. is paying for the course and to expand the CERT’s coverage to the area near 130 Liberty St.

After 9/11, Baumgarten believed that forming a locally based, vigilant group would provide a new and more encompassing safety element to the community. The Downtown CERT currently has 182 members, the largest response team in New York, which includes retired cops and working firefighters.

The free course starts on Monday, Jan. 23 at 8 p.m. and will be held at the High School for Leadership at 90 Trinity Pl. It will continue for nine weeks every Monday night, and new members need a total of 27 hours of class time. People can register by e-mailing Baumgarten at sidbaumgarten@aol.com.

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