The West Orange Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) is a volunteer group of residents serving the Township of West Orange, Essex County, New Jersey. Team members agree to assist their neighbors and town during an emergency or disaster. Citizen Corps defines CERT as "CERT is about readiness, people helping people, rescuer safety, and doing the greatest good for the greatest number. CERT is a positive and realistic approach to emergency and disaster situations where citizens will be initially on their own and their actions can make a difference." We promote disaster preparation and readiness before a disaster strikes so that you, your family, and your neighbors are better equipped to deal with the challenges an emergency or disaster brings.

What is CERT?

We train to provide support to first responders, organize other volunteers in the event of a disaster, and provide reliable information to first responders when the scope of a disaster may outpace their ability to gather information on their own. Our members are trained in Basic First Aid, Family Disaster Preparedness, Medical Operations, CERT Operations, Disaster Mental Health, and Basic Emergency Management. In the event of an emergency or disaster we work with the Police Department, Fire Department, First Aid Squad,  and the Town, County, and State Offices of Emergency Management (OEM) to provide support services.

Citizens Corps provides a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) site that answers many common questions people have about CERT.  You can also read more about the history of the CERT concept at the Citizen Corps site.

CERT in West Orange

West Orange primarily faces the threat of Severe Weather, including winter storms which can greatly impact travel, and severe storm activity which cause power outages, damage, or flash flooding while also interfering with travel.  In these situations having volunteers who can help their neighbors immediately following these storm events helps keep professional responders free to help where they are most needed. By providing an established group for the Township to reach out to during emergencies, communications can be streamlined and the Township can know there is a dedicated group of individuals who are committed to helping when asked.  West Orange CERT has trained in additional areas beyond CERT basic including: Large Incident and Firefighter Rehab, Wilderness Search, and Shelter Operations.

We also promote awareness, preparedness, and readiness through education and by assisting West Orange residents to prepare for potential emergencies, establish plans, and prepare supplies and helpful tools such as a radio, flashlight, and batteries.

Please contact us if you are interested in learning more about our group.

In West Orange, CERT is overseen by the Fire Department under the direction of the Office of Emergency Management.  Our chain of command into the town government are Fire Department Officers, Captain Abdur Yasin and Deputy Chief Paul Wannemacher.

How can I contribute?

  • You are:
    • At least 18 (21?) years old
    • Willing to attend regular meetings, training, and deployment events
    • Looking for a way to assist your neighbors and the town during an emergency
    • A West Orange resident (or your surrounding town does not have a CERT program)
    • Willing to submit to a background check
  • You are not:
    • Expected to risk your safety as part of CERT
    • Looking to be considered a first responder
  • Potential volunteers are welcome to contact us or attend our monthly meeting to get more information.  Meeting dates will be posted as News Items below.

West Orange CERT Officers

Elected for a term of 2 years, September 2014 to September 2016:


Ken Stele

Deputy Director

Matt Dragon


Ben Jakubovic
Debra Boyle
Erricka Kearney
Hedy Messinger
Karen Bonislawski 
Leede A. deLagarde II
Lucian Wondolowski

Emergency Information

Area Information

Recent News

CERT Trailer Outfitted with generator, shelving, and equipment

posted Aug 28, 2014, 7:38 AM by Matt Dragon   [ updated Aug 28, 2014, 7:46 AM ]

The West Orange CERT trailer, provided by New Jersey State Police, Office of Emergency Management (OEM) has been equipped with shelving and tie downs to organize the equipment that it will transport.  The equipment that was provided by NJSP OEM as well as additional equipment and a generator that was purchased with a grant from NJSP OEM now can be organized and secured to the shelving units inside the trailer.  In addition several additional pieces of equipment have been donated by CERT members and other groups allowing for CERT to serve the Township and surrounding communities even more safely and effectively.

West Orange CERT receives a trailer from the New Jersey State Police

posted Apr 4, 2014, 12:43 PM by Matt Dragon   [ updated Apr 4, 2014, 12:44 PM ]

On Thursday, April 3rd the West Orange CERT team was presented with a new CERT trailer at a ceremony at New Jersey State Police headquarters in West Trenton.  West Orange was one of 4 teams selected to receive a trailer in the 9th round of trailers distributed by the State.  We are the fourth CERT team in Essex County to have a trailer, joining Newark, East Orange, West Essex.  Essex County OEM also has a CERT trailer for use by any of the towns in the County.  The trailer will be outfitted to carry equipment provided by the State Police as well as additional equipment as specified by the team.  In addition to transporting equipment it will be designed to provide a command post for CERT operations during an emergency or planned town event.  Additional pictures are available here

Wilderness Search Exercise - July 22, 2013

posted Jun 24, 2013, 1:38 PM by Matt Dragon   [ updated Jun 24, 2013, 1:39 PM ]

13 CERT members participated in our second Wilderness Search Exercise in South Mountain Reservation.  Members were given just in time training in how to do a line search, and then performed a line search of a mixed wooded and grassy field for lost dolls.  They also practiced forming a perimeter to enclose a search area to ensure that a lost party did not self evacuate the search area before a K9 search team had arrived and began their search.  We also practiced locating a GPS coordinate on a map of the Reservation and navigating our search teams to that point.

CERT provides Firefighter Rehabilitation for Hazmat Drill at West Orange Armory

posted May 3, 2013, 6:39 AM by Matt Dragon   [ updated May 6, 2013, 5:04 PM ]

7 CERT members setup a Rehab area and provided rehabilitation to Firefighters participating in a Hazmat Drill that was held at the West Orange National Guard Armory.  More than 100 first responders attended the joint drill between the New Jersey National Guard and Essex County DECON (decontamination) task-force.  Fire departments from Nutley, Montclair, Bloomfield, Belleville, Nutley, Orange and East Orange as well as Essex County Sheriff's Department, the New Jersey EMS Task Force and University Hospital in Newark all participated.  West Orange CERT worked with The Bell and Siren Club and was assisted by 6 members of East Orange CERT to provide rehabilitation to the first responders that were participating in the drill.

Firefighter Rehabilitation Hands On Training - April 18th and 21st 2013

posted May 3, 2013, 6:22 AM by Matt Dragon   [ updated May 3, 2013, 6:34 AM ]

Over two days of Hands On Training classes, 11 CERT members were shown what a good layout for a Rehabilitation area looks like.  We covered how to operate rehabilitation equipment like EZ-Up tents and mister fans and how to take notes about the condition of Firefighters entering and leaving the rehabilitation area.  We also walked through how to help Firefighters remove their Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and help organize empty and full air tanks in case the Firefighters needed to re-enter the scene after completing their rehabilitation.

CPR/AED and First Aid Training - February 27, 28 2013

posted Mar 1, 2013, 3:15 PM by Matt Dragon   [ updated Mar 1, 2013, 3:16 PM ]

19 C.E.R.T. members attended CPR/AED and First Aid training over 2 nights in February.  The training was run by the Community Training Center at UMDNJ and was held at the West Orange First Aid Squad meeting room.  By completing this training our C.E.R.T. members are now better prepared to help their families, their neighbors, and the residents of West Orange

Snow Storm Warming Center - February 8, 2013

posted Feb 10, 2013, 9:24 AM by Matt Dragon   [ updated Feb 10, 2013, 10:07 AM ]

4 C.E.R.T. members staffed a Warming Center at the High School.  The Warming Center was staffed from 5pm to 8pm so that anyone who was stranded during the evening commute could wait our the bad road conditions.  Luckily no one needed to take advantage of the accommodations so the warming center was closed.

Sheltering Operations during Hurricane Sandy and the Nor'easter - October and November 2012

posted Nov 16, 2012, 7:26 AM by Matt Dragon   [ updated Nov 16, 2012, 7:27 AM ]

While Hurricane Sandy was striking New Jersey, 7 C.E.R.T. members were standing by at the West Orange High School operating the town's shelter.  In the aftermath of Sandy, temperatures in the area dropped and so the shelter was open again to end the week the storm struck and 10 C.E.R.T. members staffed shifts in the shelter.  The following week the Nor'easter threatened again to drop temperatures and cause new power outages so the shelter was again open, staffed overnight by 2 C.E.R.T. members before closing when the Nor'easter passed through without widespread impact in town.

Due to operations surrounding Hurricane Sandy the November Meeting was cancelled.

Meeting - October 8, 2012

posted Oct 24, 2012, 8:13 AM by Matt Dragon   [ updated Nov 16, 2012, 7:01 AM ]

October 8, 2012, 7pm, West Orange First Aid Squad, 25 Mt. Pleasant Place.

Business Meeting

7 West Orange C.E.R.T. members pass County BASIC class

posted Oct 24, 2012, 8:04 AM by Matt Dragon   [ updated Oct 24, 2012, 8:08 AM ]

West Orange C.E.R.T. has 7 new BASIC certified members, bring our roster up to 22 BASIC certified members.  Thank you to the Essex County Sheriffs Department, the Essex County College Police Academy, and each of the topic instructors for making this class a success.

Thanks to the new BASIC certified members for attending the 4 nights of class and the Saturday final and keep up the good work.

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