It takes little effort to get involved in the community and the rewards always far outweigh the effort or time spent to learn how to be knowledgeable and efficient within your neighborhood and become a leader in your city.
For its residents the City of Miami Beach through the Office of the City Manager has implemented two interesting programs: the Miami Beach Leadership Academy and the Community Emergency Response Team training (known as MBLA and CERT) both offered at no cost twice a year.
The MBLA founded in 2002 is a civic and public information program and as today can count more than 550 graduates. Residents enrolled in the 3 month long training program have an opportunity to meet the staff responsible for providing City services, gain insight into how the City works and get to learn the role of each department by understanding the processes involved.
With the visit of a different city department each week participants can better understand the City policies and ways of doing business; it is a great opportunity to learn more about the city government and the services it offers in interesting, fun and interactive ways.
MBLA also serves as a training ground for tomorrow’s community leaders and some MBLA graduates have even run for public office in the City.
CERT is a positive and realistic approach to emergency and unexpected disaster situations such as storms, earthquake, hurricane.
The training is a 6 weeks program taught by the City of Miami Beach Fire Department at the Emergency Operations Center where residents involved in the program receive special training that enhances their ability to recognize, respond to and recover from a major emergency or disaster situation, that includes disaster preparedness, disaster fire suppression, basic disaster medical operations, and light search and rescue operations.
Developed in 1985 by the Los Angeles City Fire Department CERT training are now conducted within communities in 28 States since it was made available nationally by the governmental agency FEMA in 1993.
CERT is all about readiness, people helping people, rescuer safety, and doing the greatest good for the greatest number of people.
In 2011 US President Obama proclaimed September as National Preparedness Month saying “we remember that preparedness is essential. Although we cannot always know when and where a disaster will hit, we can ensure we are ready to respond”.
Get involved in your community, be prepared, be a leader!
Veronika Pozmentier is a free-lance journalist. She is a Miami Beach Sister Cities International Goodwill Ambassador and serves on The Wolfsonian-FIU Visionaries Executive Committee and Miami Design Preservation League Education and Programs Committee.