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Glendale civil patrol group bolsters disaster readiness

The Glendale patrol got another distinction this week, becoming one of five civil associations in the city whose members were the first to graduate from a pilot program created by the city Office of Emergency Management that is designed to enhance civilians' emergency readiness skills.

Twenty-four of the patrol's members, along with members of the Glendale Volunteer Ambulance Corps, graduated last week from the seven-week training program called Community Emergency Response Team. P rogram facilitators said CERT will be a boon to the Glendale community.

"These people will be a force in the community," said CERT spokesman Jarrod Bernstein. "This group from Glendale Civilian Observation Patrol is the first team in Queens to graduate from CERT- they'll be a source of readiness and preparedness in their community."

The training program, part of the Department of Homeland Security's Citizen Corp. initiated by President George W. Bush in response to the threat of terrorism, was modified for New York City's urban environment and will be offered to civilian patrol groups and other associations throughout the five boroughs this year, Bernstein said.

CERT trainees are educated in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue and medical operations, and can assist emergency personnel during emergencies.

"The training provides them with a wide range of situations," Bernstein said. "But they can be helpful in a situation even if they do nothing more than checking on an elderly neighbor during a blackout or directing traffic."

Patrol President Frank Kotnik, who was among the members to graduate from the course, said the training was a supplement to the group's search and rescue and triage operations.

"It was good training and it brought a lot of people together," Kotnik said. "It's nice we were chosen to represent Queens."

Meanwhile, the Glen Oaks patrol is looking for more people from the area to join its ranks.

Kotnik said the group has expanded its patrol area to include Ridgewood, Maspeth, Middle Village and Forest Hills.

Applications are available at the group's Web site, www.g-cop.org, where visitors are greeted by yet another motto of encouragement from the group - "Get off your rear and volunteer."

For more information call Glendale Civilian Observation Patrol at 718-497-1500.

Reach reporter Tom Nicholson by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 157.

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