Citizen Preparedness Corps trains New Yorkers to be first responders in natural disasters

Louis Keiner/via Flickr
July 4, 2014

The National Weather Service predicts this year will be a relatively tame hurricane season. But this Fourth of July will include Hurricane Arthur brushing the North Carolina coast. Significant hurricanes like Sandy and Irene, as well Tropical Storm Lee, have led Governor Cuomo to create the Citizen Preparedness Corps in hopes of training New Yorkers to be their own first responders.

“Getting the population to deal with a disaster on their own is absolutely critical,” said Jerome Hauer, Commissioner of the New York State Department of Homeland Security. He doesn’t mince words when talking about the Citizen Preparedness Corps training classes.

The goal is to get New Yorkers prepared to survive on their own for seven to ten days. Why so long?

Hauer says depending on a person’s location and the severity of a disaster, it can take a week or more for first responders to reach people. He says New York’s program takes guidelines from FEMA and the Red Cross a step further by asking New Yorkers to pack a backpack of essentials that can sustain them and their families.

“If you’re prepared for the three or four worst case scenarios in your county you can handle anything," said Hauer. "Because it’s always easier to scale back the response than to find out you’re under prepared and that you don’t have the right response and now you have to scale up a response.”

Training classes for the Citizens Preparedness Corps are two hours long and taught by members of the National Guard. They’re being held in every county around the state and an emergency "to go" bags stocked with starter items like a canteen, radio and batteries and emergency rations are being distributed.

Hauer said the goal is to train 100,000 New Yorkers in the first year.

“We’re trying to make it as easy as possible for as many people as possible to be trained," said Hauer.

To find out when and where the next Citizens Preparedness Corps training class is being held visit www.dhses.ny.gov.