Fair Lawn officially welcomed a new emergency management coordinator Thursday when Wendy Demeraski was sworn into the role at the council's re-organization meeting.
Demeraski assumes the part-time, but essential role of coordinating the borough's response in times of emergency that had been held previously by Ira Marks, who retired at the end of last year.
"This is a significant event," said borough manager Tom Metzler Thursday, himself a former Fair Lawn OEM coordinator. "She will be only the fourth emergency managment coordinator in the [borough's history]."
Demeraski, 32, is also the youngest OEM coordinator and the first female to hold the post in borough history.
As such her duties will involve maintaining the borough's emergency operations center, developing and organizing its emergency operations plan and conducting regular exercises to test the borough's emergency operations plan, among many other things.
"This is a real pleasure for me," said Mayor John Cosgrove, before swearing Demeraski in at Thursday night's council re-organization. "I’ve known Wendy since she was about 3 years old. She’s been in the fire department with her dad Walt forever...We’re really pleased that she’s our new OEM director."
In addition to being a member of the Fair Lawn Volunteer Fire Department since 2001, Demeraski is also well-versed in emergency management.
She is one of approximately 900 certified emergency managers in the United States and has hundreds of courses in emergency management under her belt, according to Metzler.
"I believe Fair Lawn is the only community in the state of New Jersey where, since 1995, emergency managment has been under the leadership of a certified emergency manager, which is an extremely high standard," Metzler said Thursday.
Demeraski is also a Level 2 fire instructor, a certified drill ground instructor, author of the borough's basic animal sheltering program, primary author on a published article about sheltering children with autism and spectrum disorders and co-author of multiple programs at the Bergen County Law and Public Safety Institute.
She's working toward becoming an emergency management accreditation program assessor and is expecting to finish up her master's degree in public administration at Fairleigh Dickinson University this year.
Demeraski started working for the borough in 2006, first as an administrative assistant in emergency management and later as the deputy emergency management coordinator.
She gained valuable leadership experience this past fall with Superstorm Sandy, during which Metzler assigned her and Marks to take turns manning the borough's emergency operations center in an effort to ease her transition into her current role as the borough's OEM coordinator.