Press Release





July 14, 2017 — The New York City Emergency Management Department hosted a graduation ceremony for 91 Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) volunteers Monday, July 10. Barbara Gonzalez of Sunset Park, Brooklyn, was one of the 91 graduates. Barbara joined Brooklyn 7 CERT after completing the 10-week training program in disaster preparedness and basic emergency response skills that included lessons in fire safety, search and rescue, traffic management, and first aid and triage. Barbara says volunteering and providing service to the community is just who she is, "[C]ommunity service has been instilled in me since I was a child – my family made it a priority. I would say it definitely helped shape me into the person I am today."


Prior to becoming a member of Brooklyn 7 CERT, Barbara enlisted in AmeriCorps for two years. There, she was trained to assist in disaster preparedness and recovery.  Her desire to work in the community ultimately led her to her current role as an HIV counselor at the United Senior Center in Sunset Park, Brooklyn; there, she learned about the CERT program.


"Once I informed my director of my passion for community service, she informed me of CERT and I have been hooked ever since."


During the 10-week training, Barbara identified another passion of hers – translating. "During the training I did a lot of translating for the non-English speakers. My neighborhood is predominantly Spanish-speaking and language barriers can mean the difference between life and death during an emergency. I want to make sure that everyone is prepared regardless of what language they may speak."


Barbara says she hopes to continue to spread the importance of multi-lingual literature and preparedness materials.


"In New York City we do a good job of providing information in multiple languages, but we can always do better. I want to be part of that."

Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) in New York City

The New York City CERT program started in 2003 with 106 volunteers. The new Cycle 28 CERT graduates will join more than 1,500 credentialed CERT volunteers representing more than 50 teams throughout New York City. The 91 graduates received training from a number of the City’s highly trained emergency responders, including 20 FDNY instructors, 8 FDNY/EMS instructors, 6 NYPD instructors and 17 Emergency Management liaisons.


For more information about the CERT program, or if you are interested in becoming a CERT volunteer, call 311 or visit


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Barbara Gonzalez receives certificate following CERT Graduation, Monday, July 11, 2017 in Brooklyn, NY.