If you’re not familiar with Cert, the letters stand for Community Emergency Response Team. CERT members are not First Responders. They provide support services in a crisis.
The CERT national office believes Ken Silberman is the first blind coordinator in the country. He’s the coordinator in Greenbelt, MD, in the Washington, D.C. area. As for his regular occupation, he’s an engineer and lawyer who’s been employed with NASA for over 20 years.
Ken’s no wall flower. As he put it during our interview, it’s not good to be a shy blind guy. If you are, you’ll get put in a corner.
He believes in demonstrating to service providers and First Responders that being blind or otherwise disabled doesn’t mean you’re a victim.
Ken was among those who formed the Greenbelt, MD, chapter a few years ago. He wanted to learn what he could to become more self reliant.
His chapter is a small group, which has helped him get to know and work with the other members. They’ve become accustomed to Ken as a blind man.
What really helped win them over was his ability to make it through a pitch dark maze as part of a drill. Ken says for him the darkness was “business as usual.”
Ken shared some interesting thoughts about the alternative techniques a blind person can use for operating a fire extinguisher or handling certain first aid tasks.
Operating radio communications equipment with menu driven displays has presented a challenge for Ken. But that’s an issue for fully sighted operators as well. I’m sure we can each relate to that problem with a number of our techno gadgets these days.
However, an emergency situation is no time to try figuring out how a radio works.
Ken encourages others who are blind or otherwise disabled to become involved with CERT. In fact, he encourages everyone to explore CERT. It’s a volunteer organization, and the course material is free.
Members bring whatever abilities and talents they have to their chapter. Because it’s a citizens organization, it’s not necessary to meet the rigorous standards of fire and police departments or the military.
Ken and I discussed amateur or ham radio as well. We’re both ham operators and have been involved in public service activities as communicators. We’re also both members of the HandiHam organization.
To hear my full interview with Ken Silberman, listen to DestinySurvival Radio for July 14, 2011.
The Greenbelt, MD, CERT site includes links to other sites, such as the national CERT site. Go to http://www.tinyurl.com/greenbeltcert.
To find out about HandiHams, go to http://www.handiham.org.