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Stony Brook C-CERT — Students Responding to Emergencies

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Like it or not, emergencies happen. And when they occur on campus, members of the Stony Brook University Campus Community Emergency Response Team (C-CERT) are among the first on the scene, assisting professional first responders and other volunteer organizations.

Stony Brook C-CERT, one of the first fully functioning campus emergency response programs in the nation, was formed in 2009 with 10 members. Now under the joint jurisdiction of Campus Residences and Emergency Management, its membership has more than quadrupled.

“C-CERT has quickly become one of the most visible and active organizations on the Stony Brook University campus,” said David Scarzella, director of residential risk management. “They are an invaluable resource and have become a permanent part of the emergency and risk management enterprise.”

What sets Stony Brook’s C-CERT apart from other campus organizations is the intense training that members go through. All training is devised and given in-house, based on FEMA guidelines. New recruits must attend probationary training, which takes place every weekend for a month. “Probies” attend classes in first aid, crowd control, traffic control, triage and more. They are trained in the use of specified equipment such as trauma sheers, cervical collars and manual resuscitators, and drilled on how to respond in various emergency situations. After the training is complete, prospective C-CERT members are tested in the classroom and in the field during simulated emergency scenarios.

Once qualified, C-CERT members stand ready to put their training into action. If called to a campus emergency or “activation,” members meet at the C-CERT office, where they check in, gear up and are divided into teams. Everyone is issued a small medical pack, with first-aid and triage equipment. Each group also carries a backpack equipped with a wide array of emergency gear. Before they disperse, the operation chiefs plan the activation and indicate on a campus map where each team needs to go.

When two emergency blackouts happened on campus recently within the span of two days, “our members responded swiftly and professionally with little notice, and worked hard to support the efforts of Risk Management,” said Evan Magaliff, C-CERT second deputy chief of operations and a student in Stony Brook’s EMT/Paramedic program in the School of Health Technology and Management.

Since it has been operational, C-CERT has worked with University Police, Emergency Management, Fire Marshals and the Stony Brook Volunteer Ambulance Corps. They were among the first on the scene during Superstorm Sandy, Winter Storm Nemo and the recent fire in the Sports Complex.

“C-CERT provides invaluable assistance at large campus and athletic events, and in response to emergency incidents on campus,” said Lawrence Zacarese, assistant chief of University Police and director of the Office of Emergency Management. “I know that they can be trusted to accomplish a myriad of support activities for our office, and I greatly appreciate their assistance whenever they are able to help.”

Wearing their distinctive green T-shirts, C-CERT helps the University Police at major University events, such as Homecoming and Earthstock, where many people unfamiliar with the campus are in attendance. They also assist on New Student Move-in Day, helping parents and students find their residences and clearing space in the parking lots for the many first-time visitors.

To find out more about C-CERT, visit

— Howard Gimple

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