Disaster readiness program encourages communities to pool knowledge and experience

Jul 8, 2014

The National Weather Service predicts 2014 will be a relatively tame hurricane season. But memories of hurricanes like Sandy and Irene, as well as tropical storm Lee, have led Gov. Andrew Cuomo to create the Citizen Preparedness Corps in hopes of training New Yorkers to be their own first responders.

New York State Department of Homeland Security Commissioner Jerome Hauer didn't mince words when he spoke about the Citizen Preparedness Corps training classes.

“Getting the population to deal with a disaster on their own is absolutely critical,” Hauer said.

He says the goal is to get New Yorkers prepared to survive on their own for 7 to 10 days. But 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 the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, and the Red Cross a step further by asking New Yorkers to pack a backpack with 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, 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,” Hauer said.

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 include an emergency ‘to-go’ bag stocked with starter items, like a canteen, radio and batteries and emergency rations.

Hauer says the goal is to train 100,000 New Yorkers in the program's first year.

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

You can find out when and where the next Citizens Preparedness Corps training class is being held by clicking here.