Stillwater emergency response team seeks to expand

STILLWATER — Resident Marcia Bradley recognizes that Stillwater, even when compared to the rest of Sussex County, is known for its rural environment and relative isolation from other municipalities.

While many enjoy the peace and quiet Stillwater offers, Bradley noted the lack of a police department as one aspect that is a drawback to the community.

“The State Police take care of our town and they do a great job,” she said, “but it’s just different than having your own department.”

With that in mind, Bradley is seeking other residents to join the newly formed Stillwater Township CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) initiative. Members of the program take classes to prepare them for a variety of disaster-related situations, including lessons in fire safety, CPR and other medical procedures, search-and-rescue techniques, and even terrorism.

The Stillwater CERT, under the direction of the Office of Emergency Management, was officially established by the Township Committee at its Nov. 20 meeting. The move came after Bradley told the committee in October that three residents — Kathleen Marshall, Charles Keppler and Paul LaMarca — were enrolled in the program and would complete the necessary classes on Nov. 3.

Bradley lauded the recent efforts of Linda Grinthal in spearheading the formation of a CERT program in Andover Township and is hopeful that the same initiative will now find success in Stillwater. While she said the program would be a valuable piece of any municipality, the presence of one in her township takes on added significance because it does not have its own police department.

“That’s one of the main differences between Stillwater and Andover,” Bradley said. “I think it’s really important, in areas like this, to have a group of (trained) people.”

Interested residents can apply to be admitted into the program and, following a background screening, take part in a rigorous course that covers numerous emergency situations. Training often takes place over a period of several weeks followed by a practical and written exam, though Bradley said the Stillwater CERT does not have a schedule finalized at this point.

Bradley, who has been involved with the Sussex County and Sparta CERT programs over the past two years, said the main goal for Stillwater CERT moving forward is to increase its outreach beyond the current four members.

“We’re looking to expand, for sure,” Bradley said. “As we get more people, we’ll definitely have more programs in Stillwater.”

In fact, she added, the Township Committee has already offered the meeting room of the municipal building as a location for CERT classes.

Bradley has spent several months advertising classes for the Sussex County CERT through word of mouth and by leaving fliers at local businesses. With Stillwater now having its own organization, she said she is “excited” to grow the initiative closer to home.

For more information on the Stillwater Township CERT, contact Marcia Bradley at 973-383-9783 or marciabrad@ptd.net.

By New Jersey Herald