Hamden CERT Steps up During COVID-19 Pandemic (Photos)

CERT, the FEMA sponsored, Community Emergency Response Team Program is a national program that educates people about disaster preparedness for hazards that may impact their area and instructs them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations. Using the training learned in the classroom and during exercises, CERT members can assist others in their neighborhood or workplace following an event when professional responders are not immediately available to help.

Mission Statement – Hamden, Ct. CERT

The mission of the Hamden Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Program is to assist our families, neighbors and community, along with our local Police & Fire Departments when needed. Our team is fully certified, trained and available to provide logistical support for any large-scale emergency or planned community event that would deplete the on-duty first responder personnel.

Hamden CERT is also the volunteer branch of Hamden OEM (Office of Emergency Management). Members are always available to assist all operations of Hamden’s EOC (Emergency Operations Center) and trained to manage any Mass Care Sheltering Operations, Points of Distribution for food, water or medications or any other logistical needs!

A Letter from R.J. Freeman Jr.:

(Bob Freeman is pictured on the right, standing with Hector Velazquez)

As summer has now arrived and we hope for less social distancing and restrictions, I would just like to share with you what Hamden CERT has been accomplishing over the last 3 months, during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Since the FEMA sponsored, Community Emergency Response Team Program (CERT) is all about helping our community, as our purpose, we have been very busy.

Just to review, the CERT Program is a 3-fold program with specific goals. First, members make sure to protect and secure themselves and their family during any emergency. Second, when able to, members reach out to their neighbors to support any needs. Third, when safe and available, members reach out and connect with other team members to supply any assets or support to their community as part of the trained and certified team. With the lack of community events that we are accustom to over the past years like Fireworks, Concerts, Food Truck Festivals and other major events, many of our members were concerned about what other activities we could support. In reviewing the first half of year (2019) compared to what we have done over the last 12 weeks, it was very surprising to see what has transpired!

Last year Hamden CERT Members contributed over 600 service hours from January to August, supporting community events. This year starting with the pandemic impact starting around the middle of March, our volunteers have provided much needed support to many of the vital services required by our community members. I would like to share with you what the dedicated volunteers of Hamden CERT have accomplished over the last 15 weeks.

Food Distribution – 7 total events, packaging & distribution – 535 Hours, serving over 2,000 meals to needy families. (Averaging 250 to 400 cars per event)

Points of Distribution for PPE – 12 POD’s totaling – 155 Hours, distributing hundreds of face masks and thermal thermometers to area small business owners.

Food Deliveries, Assisting Hamden Elderly Services – 10 Deliveries – 70 Hours – making weekly deliveries every Tuesday to homebound elderly residents throughout Hamden.

The mission of Hamden CERT is all about people helping people and as you can see, we take pride for the fact that we work alongside our First Responders and are also an exclusive part of Hamden Emergency Management.

Hamden CERT Members were also able to support the Grace & St. Peters Episcopal Church: “Dinner for a Dollar” in collecting $570 from our CERT Members to support and serve 2 dinners, serving close to 200 community members! During this time, we were also able to assist our Fire Department Personnel, with logistical support and rehabilitation services during the 3 weeks of Live Burn Training that was held during the month of May, totaling 150 hours.

In July, we helped to plan and prepare the “Drive-by Hamden High School Graduation” where, with the help of 16 team members, we assisted with the logistics of over 400 vehicles that needed to be parked at Town Center Park and allow the graduates to receive their diploma’s.

I’m sure that I speak for all of our members when I say: thank you to Mayor Leng, Chief Merwede, Fire Department Staff and Personnel for allowing our members to participate and be part of the team that provides so many vital services to our community on a daily basis.”

It is always an honor to serve alongside of our First Responders, especially during these trying times over the last few months. “Please remember to be safe and do your part, for all of us during these trying times. We are all in this together!”


R.J. Freeman Jr.

Hamden CERT

Interested in Joining CERT?

The Hamden Community Emergency Response Team Basic Training is an 8 week program that gives the students the skills and equipment necessary to prepare for any small or large emergency situation or incident. All of the instruction and equipment provided is free of charge. 

Students learn to prepare and protect themselves, their family members and their neighbors. When that situation is complete and secure, if needed and activated by our Emergency Management Director, CERT Members join together as a trained, certified team to help the community and help recover from any incident assisting the Police, Fire or other town departments. 

For more information, see their website at www.hamdencert.com They hope to restart and welcome new members hopefully in the near future. They are planning on starting in August if all COVID-19 restrictions allow.

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