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The Command of the SB Campus-Community Emergency Response Team


Name: Matt Dzamko  

Year: Senior

Major: Philosophy

Hometown: New Milford, Connecticut

Position within SB C-CERT: Chief of Operations and liaison between all emergency organizations and SB C-CERT

Name: Frank Fazio

Year: Senior

Major: Psychology, Pre-Nursing Track

Hometown: Richmond Town, Staten Island

Position within SB C-CERT: First Deputy Chief of Operations

Name: Michael McWhirter    

Year: Junior

Major: Undeclared, Pre-Nursing Track

Hometown: Riverhead, Long Island

Position within SB C-CERT: Second Deputy Chief of Operations


Why is your position important to SB Campus-Community Emergency Response Team?

Matt: “I manage the day-to-day operations of command, which essentially makes sure that we are in line with our organization documents, also known as the bylaws, which are the operating guidelines. At the same time there must be some single figure to be able to handle communication with other campus personnel such as UPD, fire marshals, SBVAC, RSP, campus residences…the list has no limit.”

Frank: “I am responsible for two things within the organization. First, during emergency situations I am second in command of the organization so I relate orders from Matt, the Chief of Operations, to our members and I supervise a specific area regarding the incident. Second, I am responsible for the education of all members in emergency response protocol.”

Michael: “My position is important because I keep track of all aspects of membership including making sure everyone fulfills their requirements in a timely manner. When out in the field, if a situation were to arise, I assist our Chief Of Operations. An example of this was during the last concert a female fainted in the crowd and another chief, two general members, and I proceeded to assist with crowd control while EMTs treated the patient.”

When and why did you apply to SB C-CERT?

Matt: “I applied in Fall 2012 because I come from a family of emergency responders and got involved with emergency response prior to college. SB C-CERT was an interesting aspect of emergency response that I wanted to explore. In my senior year of high school, I took an EMT class and one thing we learned was that EMS views an emergency only in the eyes of EMS; the police view an emergency only in the eyes of a police officer and the same goes for fire marshals. C-CERT has the capacity to view the situation through all three eyes, which makes it more flexible and increases its use during a situation, which is what really stood out to me.”

Frank: “I also applied in the Fall 2012 semester when I was a freshman. I wanted to get involved on campus but I didn’t know where to start. I knew I wanted to have a hand in healthcare and helping people so SB C-CERT peaked my interest. I spoke the then-Chief of Operations, Erin Kunz, and decided to give it a try and here I am today as the First Deputy Chief of Operations.”

Michael: “I applied last fall. I didn’t know what I was doing with my college career and seeing SB C-CERT on the field and seeing flyers sparked my interest. Being part of CERT really grew on me. It influenced me to work harder academically and it made me realize that I should make more use of my free time. Before joining SB C-CERT, I hadn’t done anything on campus and didn’t give back to the community at all. I thought this seemed like a good place to start.”

What is an “activation” and what is your favorite activation to work?

Matt: “Activations can be anything from a large scale-event like homecoming to a kickball tournament done by UGC. The most interesting activation for me was Hurricane Sandy, which took place while Frank and I were still probationary members. After training, you go through a drill to practice the skills you were taught and Hurricane Sandy occurred the same say as our drill. Instead of practicing skills in a controlled environment we had to just go out and implement what we learned and just do it.”

Frank: “Adding onto what Matt said, in our terminology, an activation is anytime C-CERT is on duty. By ‘on duty’ I mean by the nature of CERT we are not on call 24/7 like an ambulance corps. We are activated at the request of the University or the Police Department. During that time, we are called to assist with basic first aid, crowd control, and light search and rescue. My favorite activation to work would be Storm Standby because it is unpredictable -you don’t know when and where it will happen and you’re always on the edge of your seat waiting for something to happen.”

Michael: “My favorites are the concerts because listening to the performers is entertaining but at the same time there’s always something happening and always someone who needs assistance, therefore SB C-CERT plays an important role during this event. Being able to assist is emotionally rewarding when someone needs the help. We also do live burns and are requested during walks such as the Crohn’s and Colitis walk that took place in October.”

How has the training you received and your role in SB C-CERT allowed you to grow as a student?

Matt: “C-CERT is interesting because it doesn’t just make people emergency responders it also makes them community leaders. The education you get is not just something you can practice in uniform. You can do it anytime, anywhere. I find that as long as I put my mind to my skills I can analyze things that challenge me more critically and determine how to go about solving them.

As Chief, even though I’m a student, I’m exposed to a lot of university politics that allowed me to grow my understanding of how the university works. I’m not political in any way shape or form but the position also made me realize that there are things you will not enjoy doing in life but if it’s for the sake of your responsibility you have to do it. Going back to politics, nowadays it’s very binary -you view things through one perspective or the other. Touching on my philosophy degree, I’m open-minded and like to see both sides of any given situation, however, for C-CERT you have to think about what is the absolute best thing to do in the current situation.”

Frank: “With regard to training, you learn not only about different emergencies but also how to handle yourself in the field as a CERT member. This helped me become better because by relearning these trainings and getting out in the field, you are a more learned member. I have become more aware of my surroundings and more aware of my personal safety, as well as that of others.

My role in CERT is demanding but rewarding. For instance, we just finished our probationary training and it was a grueling three weeks, but 90% of the class passed and are now active CERT members. This showed me that perseverance will reward you later on. I am a senior and it is tough sometimes with everything I need to take care of and it seems hopeless, but the diligence I developed as the primary instructor for CERT shows me that if I can persevere in that aspect of my life I can persevere in other aspects as well.

As a CERT member I started out as a captain -part of satellite command sending information between chiefs and other members. We were the eyes and ears through that channel. This position is demanding, however, between my election as a chief and the start of the semester I had to grow more confident in myself and the decisions I make.”

Michael: “The training helped me grow as a student because it reinforced my desire to be a nurse and to be able to go out of my way to help others. It made me focus more on schoolwork and being the best me I could be. My role as C3 taught me a lot about time management and organization.

As C3 I have to overlook all of the members and captains and make sure everyone is completing their requirements. This can be time consuming and when you have schoolwork on top of that, you really have to adapt to all of these commitments you’ve made, which is a positive professional change.”

What do you hope current and prospective members will get out of SB C-CERT?

Matt: “If they put in the work and effort to not only being a good member but helping this organization continue to grow, that will maximize what they get out of this organization and this will propel them further as an individual in life.”

Frank: “I hope current members get the same experience I did which included learning the different aspects of campus, learning how to be a better person overall, how to rely on yourself and what it takes to be part of a family like ours. For prospective members, it’s not your typical volunteer experience and I hope new members understand that. This is something unique to this campus and unique to emergency response and if you really want to do something worthwhile in college, then this organization is something to look into.”

Michael: “I hope they get improved organizational skills/time management, practice with being an effective leader, and the drive to give back to the community. Giving back is an important aspect of being human because we are all part of the community and for us to grow and advance we have to set aside some time to volunteer and not expect to receive compensation for it.”


If you are interested in joinng the SB Campus-Community Emergency Response Team, email recruitment.sbccert@gmail.com 

Jasmin is a News Blogger at Her Campus and chapter member at Her Campus Stony Brook. She enjoys blogging, photography, exercising and super sharp eyeliner. Check out her college lifestyle blog Macarons & Mascara and follow her on Twitter @jay_su_
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