Wilton CERT has come a long way.
Members of the community watched CERT members and other town officials dedicate the team’s new emergency response truck in the Wilton Fire Department garage on June 17. They also learned CERT, Wilton’s Community Emergency Response Team, will be getting its own office and storage space at Comstock Community Center when renovations of the building are completed.
Last week’s dedication featured refreshments and remarks by the first selectman, the fire chief and deputy fire chief, and Wilton CERT Managing Director Jack Majesky.
“We got a great piece of equipment with a lot of necessary gear in there to help you guys do the job,” said First Selectman Bill Brennan.
The way the team does its job has made it a standout within the context of the rest of the program in Connecticut, according to Wilton fire officials.
“When I got here a year ago, they told me Wilton had a CERT, and I had had some brief encounters and exposures with CERT in the past, and they were, frankly, very unimpressive, in different locations. Not so here,” said Fire Chief Ron Kanterman, who is also in charge of emergency operations here.
“They assist street emergencies and non-emergencies and have a reserved spot in our emergency operations center supporting the emergency manager and the first selectman during large emergencies that may hit the town, like summer and winter storms,” he continued.
“I’d say this vehicle is the premier CERT response truck in the state; however, it fits Wilton’s premier team,” added Kanterman before turning the floor over to Deputy Fire Chief Mark Amatrudo, who further distinguished Wilton CERT from other teams.
“It’s now to a point where our CERT is called out on a regular basis for various types of responses that, in many communities, CERT teams don’t even respond to, have not been prepared to respond to. Some simple examples in addition to the wires down and storm-related activities: the Halloween parade, the Fourth of July fireworks, the 9/11 United Ride, and many, many other activities,” said Amatrudo.
Majesky gave a brief history of CERT, explaining the program was developed by the Los Angeles City Fire Department in 1985 as a direct response to the prevalence of earthquakes near the San Andreas Fault, and that it was established in Wilton in 2004.
“Did I say 2004? We’re in our 11th year,” he said. “We’re blessed with having trained well in excess of 250 citizens on how to take care of themselves, their families and their neighbors. We invite them after this 20-hour training course to also join Wilton CERT. We’re blessed with 86 active members at this time. And I gotta tell you, I appreciate what our fire chiefs and our first selectman said. We’ve got the greatest group of people you could ever hope to have, every single one of them a volunteer. Every single one.”
“It’s really interesting because we meet regularly and share exercises and training regularly with other CERT units in Region One,” said Majesky. “Region One in our state goes from Greenwich up through and including Bridgeport, so 11 CERT units. We had a trailer for six years. The other 10 members of CERT in Region One just got trailers.”
“You can’t believe how happy I was at the meeting to say, ‘congratulations you guys; you gotta come down and see our truck!’” he joked, getting laughs from the audience.
Wilton CERT has come a long way.