You are a first responder.

That was the message Roger Spurback, the president of Niagara Falls Block Club Council, told the North End Block Club on Saturday morning at Lockport City Hall.

Citizens should not wait for the firemen, the police or the government to arrive, but be prepared to take action in case of disaster in their neighborhood.

“We need to engage citizens. Disaster protection depends on you,” Spurback said. “Step up to the plate to get things done. We need citizens to step up.”

The Niagara Falls Council is hooking up Lockport block clubs.

“We are ready to expand, and Lockport is first on our plate,” said Spurback, a Delphi employee who has worked with the Niagara Falls Neighborhood Watch for 12 years.

“We’re very serious about bringing this into Lockport,” said Dan Wilson, the president of the Lockport Block Club Council and the North End Neighborhood Watch and Block Club. “It’s time.”

Niagara Falls has 32 block clubs, while Lockport has three — the North End Block Club, the Central City Block Club and the Lowertown Block Club. Two more are on the way.

“Dan Wilson is energetic in creating other block clubs.

We like that energy,” Spurback said. “What we’re trying to do is get synergy. By getting synergy, we’ll get a lot more done.”

To get that combined force, Spurback and Wilson want volunteers to take part in Civilian Emergency Response Team training and be more involved in block clubs.

“We’ve got to really step our efforts here. We’ve got chemicals here that are deadly,” Wilson said. “We’ve to a lot to do to become self-sufficient. We’ve learned a lot from Hurricane Katrina. The government is not able to do everything. ... The police and fire departments are not going to be able to do it all.”

Everyone has to be responsible for their own health and safety, according to Spurback. “We hear all the time about police and fire being the first responders. That’s true, but in reality you are your own best first responder before any police or fire get there.”

The council wants to educate the public and has worked through Niagara University. It has trained 150 people in first aid and CERT.

Trained CERT members can give medical attention and help people get evacuated. They understand evacuation and how to organize neighborhoods.

However, there are not enough training officers.

The organization also is working with Red Cross, United Way and the Greater Niagara Citizens Council.

The Lockport council is modeled after Niagara Falls. “What we’re trying to do is get a support for all the block clubs to share, so no block club is alone in their missions,” Wilson said.

Tim Stoll is the president of Lowertown, and Jessica McCarthy is president of Central City. A formation meeting will be held in December.

Contact Bill Wolcott at (716) 439-9222, Ext. 6246.

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