CERT In Action!

Main Content

CERT in Action! is about sharing the stories of local CERT Programs whose Teams have responded in emergencies, assisted in public safety efforts, or participated in other community service projects. Beyond training, drills and exercises, "CERT in Action!" captures how Teams make a difference in their community. The shared stories will enable all CERT Programs to benefit from the experiences of individual programs. Additional stories will be added to the site regularly. If you have a story about your "CERT in Action!" please let us know by contacting us at cert@dhs.gov.

When you submit your story, please be sure to include the following information in your email:

  • Contact name
  • Email address
  • Phone number
  • City, State
  • Event/activity
  • Date(s)
  • 2 - 4 paragraphs on how the CERT(s) were used, types of activities they performed, number of team members activated, any challenges and/or successes experienced during the activation

If you have a picture to submit, please list the people in the picture and the activity they are performing. Also, prior to posting your story online we will reach out to the contact person to confirm the facts. We look forward to your stories, and thank you in advance for sharing with the CERT community.

CERT in Action! Stories

June 2011

September 2010

February 2010

September 2009

June 2009

May 2009

March 2009

December 2008

September 2008

June 2011

Bay CERT Partners with Red Cross and Community to Respond to Apartment Fire

CERT members recently teamed with the Greater Houston chapter of the Red Cross to help residents displaced by a fire at an apartment building complex in Seabrook, Texas. On February 26, 2011 the four-alarm fire destroyed three buildings, ultimately damaging 46 units and displacing over 100 people.

The CERT was activated by the Seabrook fire chief shortly after the blaze began at 5:00 AM. Through a phone tree, CERT members were asked to report to a local community center to assist in setting up a temporary shelter for residents displaced by the fire. Despite the early hour and short notice, 19 CERT members reported for duty by mid-morning and quickly worked to make the 90 people who needed immediate assistance comfortable. “We called up different area ministries to help with all the children, then we served food, set up bedding, and collected and distributed donated clothing,” said Don Holbrook, coordinator of Bay CERT, which draws members from the town of Seabrook and nearby La Porte. Once longer-term shelter was identified for the various families by Red Cross staff, CERT members worked to drive residents to the new locations.

The CERT members organized the work into shifts and helped the Red Cross staff the temporary shelter for over 24 hours, until it closed on the afternoon of February 27th.

The partnership between the Red Cross and the CERT worked well, according to all involved. “We’re able to get there before the Red Cross can, so we assume the work and get there and then work hand in hand when the Red Cross can arrive,” said Holbrook. “We don’t look at it like a CERT thing or a Red Cross thing; we just work together and see what needs to be done.” Steve Sweet, who was the Red Cross contact for relief efforts after the blaze, agreed that the partnership was very effective: “A lot of time you get different agencies together, they bang heads, but the CERT and Red Cross worked well together.”

That partnership was reprised in April 2011, when another fire at an apartment building in La Mesa also displaced residents. A dozen CERT members worked with the Red Cross from 10:00 in the evening until 3:00 in the morning to find temporary shelter for people displaced by the fire. “Everything happens so fast, you try to accommodate people’s immediate needs,” said Holbrook. “But we’ve got a pretty good team, and I’m proud of them.”

For more information, contact Don Holbrook at donholbrook92@yahoo.com.

Greenbelt CERT Joins Eastern Shore Search-and-Rescue Mission

On March 5th, 2011, 14 CERT members representing several Maryland CERTs assisted in a search for the remains of a missing person. The Delmarva Search and Rescue Group asked for CERT volunteers to join them in assisting the Maryland State Police in the search.

The police instructed CERT members to look for the remains of an elderly man with dementia who had left his farm house in 2006 armed with a pistol and had not been seen since. The police divided the woods near the man's home into four 70-acre sectors for the search and asked CERT members to look for skeletal remains, hairs, pieces of clothing, a metal leg brace, the gun, a belt buckle, or anything unusual.

The CERT worked with other groups in a carefully structured search line. They were issued metal detectors and also worked with officers with search dogs, being careful to always stay behind and downwind of the dogs. With such a large search operation, the high-visibility CERT vests proved especially useful, said Don Comis, a Greenbelt, Maryland CERT member who was part of the search team. "We needed high-visibility clothes to keep an eye on each other in the woods," noted Comis.

The search occurred in the woods bordering a corn farm in Princess Anne, Maryland, a 2.5-hour drive for most of the CERT volunteers. What motivated so many CERT members to show up for an all-day operation so far away on a Saturday? "For me, I guess it was the excitement of getting to do an actual search operation," said Comis, who in the past had also performed traffic control duties as part of his CERT activities.

Although the group was ultimately not able to locate the man's remains, the operation was a good opportunity for CERT members to practice skills and to highlight the vital role that CERT can play in assisting law enforcement and emergency personnel. Chief Jim Jackson of Delmarva Search and Rescue noted that "We had nothing but compliments on how well CERT did and the role they played in the mission. What I saw was a good indication that CERT is serious about the mission and roles they can play in that mission."

For more information, contact Ken Silberman, Greenbelt, Maryland CERT coordinator at kenneth.a.silberman@nasa.gov.

Teen CERT Member Saves Elderly Woman from Fire

A 13-year-old girl who received CERT training through her Girl Scout troop in Missouri saved an elderly woman from a fire in her home in April 2011.

Alexis Becker, a Cadette Girl Scout and St. Charles County Teen CERT member, was at home playing outside when she heard screams. Alexis followed the sound of the screaming to the home of an elderly neighbor. She didn't know the neighbor but noticed signs of fire coming from the house, so she convinced the woman to leave her home. The fire started when the woman mistakenly put an electric crockpot on her stove's heating element.

The woman was in a state of shock and had not yet called 911 despite the evident signs of a fire, so Alexis called the fire department for her. The woman was also reluctant to leave her home without her dog, but Alexis remained calm and convinced her to leave the house, promising to try to get the dog out safely as well. Alexis knew from her CERT training that it would be unsafe to re-enter the house, so she called for the dog from the front door, and fortunately, the dog quickly came outside to safety as well. The fire department soon came to extinguish the blaze. The woman and her dog were unharmed, and her home had survived with only minor damage.

Alexis told Mark Rosenblum, program director for the St. Charles County Teen CERT, that she would not have known what to do if had not been for the CERT training she received through her Girl Scout troop. In fact, Alexis Becker had just completed her CERT training in March 2011 before she was called into service to help her elderly neighbor. Rosenblum said, "My wife calls it my volunteer full-time job, but it's worth it if even one kid goes to the CERT training and saves somebody's life."

For more information, contact Mark Rosenblum at mark.rosenblum@juno.com.

Oregon CERT Activated to Prepare for Tsunami

When the 8.9-magnitude earthquake and resulting tsunami struck Japan on March 11, 2011, residents of the coastal Oregon town of Astoria were concerned that a tsunami wave would also strike their area, which lies near the mouth of the Columbia River. Bracing for the worst, area fire department personnel advised people in low-lying areas of the possible inundation zone to move to higher ground. The Astoria CERT was activated at 5:30 AM to stage a relocation center for anyone who responded to these warnings.

A dozen CERT members from Astoria and neighboring towns Lewis and Clark reported to a local elementary school to set up a tsunami shelter. They brewed coffee and prepared food for the firefighters who had been up all night trying to warn people to relocate, as well as for citizens who came to weather a possible tsunami wave. The CERT staged these activities from its "CERTmobile" a former ambulance that not only has food-preparation space, but also holds emergency equipment, including chainsaws, generators, floodlights, traffic signs, and radios for all law enforcement and amateur radio channels. The CERT coordinators kept in constant contact with amateur radio operators observing conditions along the coast.

The CERT members staffed the post until it became clear later that morning that their area would not be hit by the tsunami, although parts of the southern Oregon and northern California coasts were damaged.

"We were really, really fortunate that the waves were minimal," said Dorothy Davidson, who, with her husband Bill, shares leadership of the Astoria CERT. However, Davidson noted that the tsunami had an unanticipated benefit for her team: her CERT events have been unusually well-attended since March. "A horrible situation turned out to be a blessing," said Davidson. "It reinforced the idea that a distant event could affect [local residents]."

Even though the tsunami did not reach her community, Davidson was glad her CERT was ready in the event of a tragedy. "We're calling people at 5:30 in the morning, and they actually come; that says a lot," noted Davidson. "That's volunteerism at its best."

For more information, contact Dorothy Davidson at lightning@gmail.com.

Monterey, California CERT Clears Beaches During Tsunami Threat

The Monterey, California CERT was activated in March 2011 to help clear beaches in the event that the deadly tsunami that struck Japan also struck the Monterey area. Working in seven teams, 39 CERT members assisted local law enforcement in patrolling the Monterey coastline, asking beach goers to leave the area, and giving regular reports on the tidal conditions via radio. Each CERT member had access to a hand-held radio with a special VHF frequency dedicated to CERT broadcasts.

The use of the CERT's new E-sponder paging system made it simple to quickly activate the team, said Demetrius Castros, who is a lead CERT instructor and member of the Monterey CERT Advisory Committee. The system allows an authorized user to send an e-mail, which is then digitized into robo-calls that provide voicemail and text messages. The benefit of this system over a traditional phone tree is that a single person can activate an entire CERT simultaneously in a matter of minutes. "Traditional phone trees take a long time, and it's sometimes hard to get a hold of people," said Castros.

CERT members patrolled the beaches until the predicted surge threat was over at 9:00 AM. Although Monterey only faced a 2-foot surge in its waters, the threat to the California coast was very real. The neighboring community of Santa Cruz, 17 miles away, faced $15 million in damage to its harbor facilities caused by the tsunami wave.

"Though the tsunami did not strike our area hard, I was proud to know that 39 people showed up to do whatever they needed to do to help. It was a terrific show for our program to have so many come out at such an early hour," said Castros.

For more information, contact montereycert@hotmail.com.

New Jersey CERTs Help Area Cope with Flooding

Several CERTs sprang into action to help communities in northern New Jersey deal with serious flooding that occurred in March 2011. The flooding that resulted in a state of emergency caused severe damage to hundreds of homes, and closures of area schools, roads, and shopping centers.

"Spring flooding of nearby rivers is an annual problem, so CERT members began work before the flooding even began," said Little Falls CERT Coordinator, Detective Fred Batelli. Teams went house to house into flood-prone areas of the community to hand out flyers that described what to do in case of a flood.

Once the flooding began, the Little Falls CERT was formally activated to set up an evacuation shelter at a local civic center and to prepare food for flood victims and first responders. This 20-person team contributed more than 500 hours of time staffing the shelter around the clock for a week.

Members of the Little Falls CERT had completed special shelter manager training from the Red Cross and food handling training from the Salvation Army. The Red Cross training allows the Little Falls CERT to establish approved emergency shelters without Red Cross personnel, while the Salvation Army training allows the group to safely handle and prepare food in an emergency shelter context. All food and shelter materials were provided by the Red Cross.

Although the Red Cross and Salvation Army training was originally offered as optional in-service training for CERT members, it has proven more valuable with each spring flooding episode. "Every year we do this, and it is gets better every year," said Batelli.

Additional CERTs in northern New Jersey provided traffic control support for local police departments on flooded roads.

For more information on the Little Falls CERT program, contact Detective Batelli at abatelli@littlefallspd.org.

Southern Marin CERT Joins in Search-and-Rescue Effort

CERTs are not just a resource in times of major emergencies--they can also be activated for smaller local crises as well. On January 24th, 2011, the Southern Marin CERT in California was asked by the Sausalito Sheriff's office to assist with a search-and-rescue operation to locate an elderly woman with dementia who wandered away from her home. The 90-year-old woman became disoriented after a fire in her neighborhood disrupted her normal walking route.

After receiving calls through the Marin Emergency Activation Notification System around 5:00 PM on the 24th, 15 Marin CERT members reported to the incident command post at the Sausalito Fire Station. They were then assigned to search teams led by emergency response personnel. Members searched for the woman until midnight. Seven CERT members returned to continue the search at 7:00 AM the following morning.

Fortunately, by 8:00 AM, the woman had been spotted by two hikers who saw television news reports about the search. She was cold, tired, and hungry, but was otherwise in good condition. Paramedics transported her to the hospital for evaluation, and the search effort was brought to a successful close.

Larry Yoell, program coordinator for the Southern Marin CERT, said the activation not only allowed CERT members to assist in an important small-scale community emergency response effort, but also provided a chance for CERT members to practice their skills and use their equipment in preparation for when they are needed for a larger emergency.

For more information, go to www.smfd.org or contact Larry Yoell at lyoell@smfd.org.

 

September 2010

Escambia County, Fla. CERT Tackles Beach Cleanup

The recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has many gulf communities concerned about oil accumulating on local shores. During the weekend of April 30, 2010, the Escambia County, Fla. CERT assisted in the management of a volunteer cleanup aimed at removing debris from Pensacola and Perdido beaches, in case any oil does seep onto its shores.

Eighteen Escambia County CERT members helped transport supplies, as well as register and manage the almost 1,000 volunteers who gathered to clear the beaches of manmade trash and debris. “Clearing manmade debris from beaches before the oil arrives lessens the amount of contaminated material,” said Maralee Sartain, CERT coordinator.

During the planning phases of the fast-paced weekend, CERT volunteers helped set up a volunteer reception center to pre-register citizens for the event. “Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) and CERT members were instrumental in assisting with registration of volunteers on our two local beaches,” said Sartain. She added that the collaboration and cooperation of CERT, along with the Be Ready Alliance Coordinating for Emergencies (BRACE), United Way of Escambia County (UWEC), Escambia County Citizen Corps Volunteer Leadership, Escambia Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) coalition members, and MRC, were essential to the effective utilization of local volunteers. 

At the May CERT class graduation, BRACE presented CERT, MRC, and VISTA volunteers with a certificate of appreciation for their tremendous efforts.

For more information, please contact Maralee Sartin at brace@bereadyalliance.org

Cameron, Mo. CERT Aids in Search and Rescue of Missing Woman

On March 31, 2010, two Cameron, Mo. CERT members assisted the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department in the search and rescue of an 82-year-old woman who had been missing for more than 24 hours.

Weather conditions were favorable for a search with temperatures in the 80s and sunny, which was unusually warm for late March. When a search aircraft subsequently located the missing woman’s vehicle in a remote area of the county, the CERT volunteers were able to provide all-terrain vehicles to access the area and reach the car. “They worked side-by-side with emergency services and were first on the scene and located the missing woman,” said Cameron Police Chief Corey Sloan.

The elderly female was found alive, but she was dehydrated and complained of leg and hip pain. CERT members “provided first aid until the EMS folks could get there,” said Chief Sloan. The woman later told officials that she became disoriented in the remote area and drove into a field. Her vehicle became stuck when she tried to turn around.

Chief Sloan praised CERT’s involvement in the search. “The collaborative efforts of the Dekalb County Sheriff’s Department, Missouri State Highway Patrol, Cameron Police and Fire departments and, most importantly, the Cameron CERT, proved instrumental and most likely saved the life of this 82-year old woman,” he said.

For more information, please contact Chief Sloan at cpdsloan@centurytel.net.

Belmont, Mass. CERT Helps Quench Community's Thirst

The Belmont, Mass. CERT recently came to the aid of their community during a water emergency by helping distribute bottled water to local residents. The emergency was the result of a broken water main that left 2.5 million people in 30 jurisdictions without a fresh supply of water.

Two dozen CERT members assembled at the local high school on May 2, 2010, to distribute more than 1,700, 24-packs of bottled water provided by the state. The town’s Connect CTY system, which calls each household with information in case of emergencies, alerted and informed residents of the water distribution.

Citizens drove, walked, or biked to pick up the water, with each resident allowed one 24-pack of water. CERT members also helped local police direct traffic and checked identification to ensure only Belmont citizens received water.

Leo Saidnawey, Belmont’s Emergency Management Agency Director, said the delivery of water to residents would have been extremely difficult, if not impossible, without the CERT members. Members were eager to help, with some calling to ask what they could do before the details of the distribution were complete.

Allen Phillips, EMAC Region 1 Lead State Representative of the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency and Belmont resident, also praised the CERT’s efforts during the water emergency. “Everything went very smoothly,” he said. He was also “impressed that they [Belmont CERT] are able to support themselves and do not utilize state support.”

For more information, please contact Allen Phillips at Allen.Phillips@state.ma.us.

Frankfort/Franklin County, Ky. CERT Gets Muddy Assignment

The Frankfort/Franklin County, Ky. CERT was faced with a muddy task after the Kentucky River overflowed due to heavy rain. Starting on May 2, 2010, CERT members spent three days helping to clear city streets of mud and debris, according to Deron Rambo of the Frankfort/Franklin County Office of Emergency Management.

“We sent a reserve fire truck and one firefighter to set up and show the CERT group how to operate the hoses correctly,” said Rambo. The group of 8-10 CERT volunteers focused on two areas of the city that were affected by flooding. “They sprayed water and washed down the street. They were all muddy by the end of the day, but they had a good time and felt good about helping their community,” said Rambo.

In addition to clearing city streets, the CERT members later went door-to-door to approximately 100 homes damaged by the flooding to assess water damage and provide basic clean-up information to citizens. “They also passed out flyers with information on how to get clean-up kits from the city,” said Rambo.

CERT members that helped in this effort had just completed their CERT training last winter, so helping their community after the flooding was their first assignment. Rambo added that the CERT volunteers “were a huge help to the city. They did a lot of work, and they’re ready for their next assignment!”

For more information, please contact Deron Rambo at drambo@frankfort.ky.gov.

 

February 2010

Yamhill County, Ore., CERT Members Extinguish Fire at County Fair

Two Yamhill County, Ore., CERT members in the right place at the right time helped prevent a major emergency at the Yamhill County Fair and Rodeo in July 2009. A propane bottle in one of the concession booths sprang a leak, causing propane vapors to pool, ignite, and explode. The bottle then fell on its side, making it more difficult to control the flames.

Two CERT members, on a break from duties at the exit gate, immediately leaped into action. One member called 911 while the other began using an extinguisher to quench the fire. With the help of the vendor’s brother and another fair attendee, they were able to fully extinguish the fire and prevent it from spreading.

“Together, this collection of men who chose to act rather than watch saved the situation from becoming something much more serious,” said Doug McGillivray, emergency manager for Yamhill County.

The explosion and subsequent fire damaged a rear corner of the booth and a large portion of the supplies used by the vendor, and destroyed much of the booth next to it. However, the men were able to stop the fire before it spread to other propane tanks nearby.

“If the fire had not been extinguished quickly, there was a risk of one or more of the tanks exploding, and this is one of the great concerns for firefighters — the explosion of a pressure vessel containing flammable material,” said McGillivray. “A potential major emergency was averted by quick thinking.”

Incidentally, the members recently completed the CERT course on proper fire extinguisher use. One of the men remarked that it was just like he was taught in class: A slow and methodical approach using proper techniques works well.

For more information, please contact Kelly Jo Craigmiles at kjcraigm@oem.state.or.us.

Navarre, Fla., CERT Assists in Search and Rescue

Early in the morning of Sunday, April 26, 2009, the Santa Rosa County emergency management office began the search for a young man who had disappeared the previous evening while swimming in rough surf conditions in the Gulf of Mexico. Within an hour of being alerted to the operation, the Navarre CERT activated, organized an Incident Command Post on the beach, and deployed three search-and-rescue (SAR) teams.

The Navarre CERT came under the direction of Sgt. Jeremy Snow of the Sheriff’s Office. The Sheriff’s Office immediately deployed multiple SAR strike teams, covering approximately 10 miles of coastline. Sixty-three volunteers, including 44 CERT members, were on the scene from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., when the Coast Guard suspended the search. Unfortunately, the search ended tragically when the young man’s body was recovered the following afternoon several miles west of the search area.

Due to the team's skillful organizing and previous experiences, Sgt. Snow directed the Navarre CERT to manage all volunteers associated with the effort. According to CERT Coordinator T.J. Doherty, prior SAR experience helped keep volunteer efforts running smoothly. He credits a strong Incident Command System and experienced section chiefs with keeping order and involving volunteers in the effort. Doherty also attributes the team’s efficiency and organization to ongoing practice. “Every exercise, drill, or community event, even festivals, is a way to strengthen as a team and improve communication and response skills,” says Doherty.

The Navarre CERT was formed in 2005 after hard-hitting Hurricane Ivan illustrated the need for additional emergency support services in the area. It currently has more than 100 members. The team is frequently activated by the fire department to assist in search-and-rescue operations. The team relies on what they learned in CERT basic training as well as techniques they learn in advanced training provided by CERT instructors. This monthly refresher training has taught the CERT how to use a map grid system and how to code and decode grid coordinates. Their skills will be especially valuable in the future because the county’s SAR team recently disbanded, making the Navarre CERT the fire department’s first call when it needs SAR assistance.

For more information, please contact T.J. Doherty at TJ@MC130.com.

Spartanburg, S.C., CERT Provides Support During Brush Fire

On a hot August day, what started as a small, controlled burn in someone’s Spartanburg, S.C., backyard quickly became a large brush fire requiring the services of three fire departments, the South Carolina Forestry Commission, and the Spartanburg County CERT Support Services Team.

The team provided rehabilitation services as local firefighters and other responders fought to control the blaze that started after a trash burn in someone’s backyard spread to the surrounding woods. “We activated our rehab unit and were out there two consecutive days,” said Robbie Swofford, Spartanburg CERT coordinator.

CERT members provided support by giving responders a place to rest and recharge with cooling tents and refreshments. They were even able to offer their weather station to the Forestry Commission. “[The station] tells you valuable information — humidity, wind direction, temperature — and Forestry used it to keep tabs on the situation,” said Swofford.

Eight members working in shifts were on the scene from 2 to 8 p.m. on August 10, 2009, when the fire started, and returned the following day from 2 to 8 p.m. when the blaze rekindled. “CERT made such a great impression that we were activated again the next day,” said Swofford. The team continued to offer assistance to firefighters and provided shelter when a sudden storm hit.

CERT members remained on the scene until the fire was under control. “I was thrilled with our response time and on how quickly we set up and tore down,” said Swofford. This was the third activation for the Support Services Team this year. CERT is very active in the area, with nearly 500 members on the books. They are most often activated to assist with fires or search-and-rescue operations.

For more information, please contact Robbie Swofford at rswofford@spartanburgcounty.org.

 

September 2009

North Dakota CERTs Provide Assistance During Flood

North Dakota is used to harsh winters. However, spring 2009 found the State suffering more than usual as that winters record snowfall melted, causing widespread flooding. As the waters rose, CERTs across the State stepped up to assist their communities. The program has been a great tool for the State of North Dakota, said Sarah Werner, the State CERT Program Manager. Having trained and ready volunteers when disaster strikes is invaluable.

Bismarck was one of the first communities affected by the flooding. Centrally located CERTs from Bismarck, Burleigh County, and United Tribes Technical College were activated to assist with sandbagging along the Missouri River. An estimated 40 CERT volunteers worked more than 300 hours to fill bags and supervise sandbag central, located in the Bismarck Civic Center. Werner worked at the Bismarck sandbag site managing the volunteers and the registration process. Throughout the State tens of thousands of volunteers worked countless hours, including hundreds of CERT volunteers, she said.

CERT members assisted in coordinating the overall operations. Speaking to KXMB-TV, CERT Volunteer Coordinator Duane Pool expected the operation to use between 800,000 and 1 million sandbags. He acknowledged the outpouring of volunteers saying, I am amazed at the operation working as efficiently as it is with as many volunteers as we have. In 3 days sandbag central registered more than 4,000 volunteers.

As the waters continued to rise, CERTs were activated to help in Fargo, the States largest city. Cass County, North Dakota and Clay County, Minnesota CERT volunteers helped sandbag, check in volunteers, and answer calls at the citys call center. A group of CERT members were also put in charge of one of the citys volunteer check-in sites. Elsewhere in the State, CERT volunteers in rural Dickey County identified and documented downed power lines, managed sandbagging operations, staffed an emergency shelter, documented emergency response operations, and identified needs.

The CERT response was great, said Werner. Our volunteers continue to prove that they will be there when the State needs them. This was not North Dakota CERTs first disaster deployment and it will not be its last. Each time they are deployed, CERT volunteers show the value of their training.

For more information, please contact Sarah Werner at sarah@ndlc.org.

Hidden Village, Utah CERT Responds to Canyon Road Landslide

Shortly before noon on July 11, 2009, a landslide associated with an irrigation canal breach moved rapidly down a steep hillside on Canyon Road in Logan, Utah. Three people were killed when their home was completely demolished; 16 other homes were damaged.  The Hidden Village Neighborhood CERT was activated to respond to the crisis. A wife of a CERT member spotted the landslide and within 23 minutes six CERT members had arrived on the scene and immediately set up a command post and radio communications center. The team took on most of the CERT Incident Command (IC) positions, developed teams and shifts, and put in more than 232 hours during the 5-day incident. "Sixteen of our Hidden Village CERT [members] engaged and responded," said Sue Shaw, Hidden Village Emergency Preparedness Leader.

Shaw served as a recorder on the first day of the incident, working with Incident Commander John Ellsworth. They began by orienting volunteers – 300 in the first shift – and assigning them to cleanup sites. Noting their efforts, EMS Coordinator and Assistant Fire Chief Will Lusk then tasked the CERT to oversee the organization and supervision of hundreds of additional volunteers, which on Sunday totaled 784. The volunteers were responsible for cleanup on the affected streets in preparation for city cleaning crews to begin their work.

CERT personnel were asked to cover 4-hour shifts over the next 24 hours to ensure emergency personnel had the necessary supplies. Their success in this area led the city to continue CERT deployment on Monday, July 13, placing them in charge of water and food distribution for emergency personnel. CERTs also continued to organize and direct volunteers, and provide security for the command center and a church being used as a shelter. "We held the fort so to speak in the first 2 days of the disaster," said Shaw. Their experience training together as a neighborhood, participating in exercises, their familiarity with the command center, and the variety of tasks they had to fulfill, "kept the CERT [members] alert and active during their 4-hour shifts," said Shaw.

Hidden Village CERT remained on the scene and in action from the beginning of the incident until final wrap-up occurred 5 days later. Logan City officials are now convinced that CERT members can fill an important and vital role in disaster response and management. Meetings have been scheduled with city officials to determine the appropriate role and the best method to utilize CERT in the future. Logan County Fire Department Assistant Chief Lusk emphasized that CERT was crucial to the recovery effort. "They're a group of people that deserve a lot of credit," he said. "They have the heart and soul of a champion."

For more information, please contact Dennis and Sue Shaw at sueshaw@homeownerswelcome.com.

New Britain, Conn. CERT Responds to Fire and Storm Incidents

At 1:30 in the morning on June 26, 2009, the New Britain, Conn. Fire Department responded to a fire involving a 24-unit apartment building. The Office of Emergency Management activated the New Britain CERT to assist with the nearly 100 victims of the fire. Eight CERT members responded with a bus to provide emergency transportation and also to provide a place for victims to rest. Other members opened a shelter for the victims at the City of New Britain Senior Center. The American Red Cross (ARC) also responded and together the CERT and ARC operated the shelter until 5 p.m. the next day.

However, the CERT members weren't finished yet. Just as they were closing the shelter, severe weather pummeled the area with high winds, heavy rain, and hail, bringing down many trees and wires. The CERT was activated again to respond to the many damaged locations. Ten CERT members responded, assessing damage across the town and reporting back to their command post. They used their CERT vehicles to provide traffic control, tape off hazardous areas with warning tape, and provide emergency lighting to city workers removing trees from roadways and homes. The CERT members worked until almost midnight before being released.

The New Britain CERT is one of the most active programs in the State. The CERT is activated about twice a month for local emergencies. CERT members are called out anytime sheltering is needed for victims, such as the apartment fire. It was highly unusual for the CERT to be activated for two incidents back-to-back, but members proved they were more than up to the task.

For more information, please contact Lieutenant Michael Berry at MBB1324@NewBritainCT.gov.

CERT Member Offers Help in New Britain, Conn.

CERT members never know when they will need to use their training and respond to a situation. This was the case recently for a CERT member in New Britain, Connecticut. The CERT member was driving home one afternoon near the Shuttle Meadow Reservoir in June, 2009, when she saw a minivan rolling down the embankment and into the water. Out of concern for anyone potentially trapped inside, she drove closer to the van. She saw water up to its roof as the van was quickly sinking deeper into the reservoir, with no one exiting the cold water. She immediately jumped out of her vehicle and prepared to jump in the water.

However, as she got closer to the water's edge, she remembered her CERT training. Her CERT class had taught her to look at the whole situation and to always protect herself first. Before going any further she called 911 to dispatch first responders and relay all important information. As she directed the responders to the location, she realized there were several teenagers in the area watching. It was discovered later that the teenagers had stolen the van and dumped it in the reservoir. Upon arriving at the scene, firefighters searched the water and confirmed that no one had been inside the van.

Michael Berry, Deputy Director of Emergency Management for the City of New Britain and a member of the New Britain Fire Department, credits CERT training for the womans response in this situation. "Because of her CERT training, she was able to protect herself, gather information, and direct trained and equipped personnel to the location without placing herself in a dangerous position."

For more information, please contact Lieutenant Michael Berry at MBB1324@NewBritainCT.gov.

 

June 2009

Douglas County, GA, CERT Team Assists in First Mission

The first mission came quickly for the Douglas County, GA, inaugural CERT members.  Almost as soon as they had completed training in November 2008, their assistance was requested on New Year's Eve by the Douglas County Sheriff's Office and Fire Department.  A local woman, described as despondent, was reported missing.  The search area, over land and water, was more than the traditional first responders could cover.  Ten CERT members, some of whom also volunteer on a rescue dive team, reported to incident command and were assigned an area to search.  Within 30 minutes, the CERT/rescue dive team volunteers located the body of the missing woman.

Although the incident ended tragically, Jason Milhollin, Director of Emergency Management for Douglas County, said the search proved that CERT is a valuable asset to the county.  "It was great to call on a group that had the appropriate training and knew what was expected of them," he said. "Without the CERT/dive team, it would have taken a great deal more time to conduct the search.  We look forward to continuing training for new CERT members and growing our new program."

For more information, please contact Jason Milhollin at jmilhollin@co.douglas.ga.us.

MD CERT Member Assists in Hit and Run

On the evening of March 8, 2009, David Cohen, a two-year Northern Park Heights, MD, CERT member, witnessed a hit-and-run pedestrian accident on a local road.  Immediately after the impact, he noticed that oncoming traffic, including a city bus, was quickly heading toward the victim.  She was lying in the middle of the road and appeared to be seriously injured.  Cohen pulled his car through four lanes of traffic and blocked the lanes near where the woman lay, thus preventing further injury.  He put on his CERT reflective vest and dialed 9-1-1.  When Cohen reached the victim, he realized that her injuries were severe and beyond the scope of his training.  However, he stayed with her until fire department personnel arrived to tend to her. 

Cohen credits CERT for his quick reaction during the incident.  "Because of my CERT training, I had the ability to think clearly and give detailed information to the police to ensure all of the pertinent information was documented," he said.  "I was able to assess the situation and assist in a way that was helpful until professional help arrived."

For more information, please contact David Cohen at cohenner@gmail.com.

Elverado, IL, CERT Team Assists in Command Center

On May 8, 2009, severe storms ravaged parts of southern Illinois, resulting in widespread power outages and downed trees in several counties.  The Elverado CERT was called into action by the Jackson County Emergency Management Agency to assist at the command center.  Their duties included entering critical storm damage information into the command center database to determine areas with the most damage.  CERT members also manned phones for 24 hours, and some members volunteered to take on more shifts afterward.

"We were more than happy to be used in this capacity for the county," said Tracy Frischkorn, Program Manager for the Elverado CERT. "I was absolutely impressed that the county called us, because it showed that they recognize we are here to help."  The Elverado CERT has 12 members, from the towns of Elkville, Vergennes, and Dowell.

For more information, please contact Tracy Frischkorn at winfrisch@peoplepc.com.

 

May 2009

Naperville, IL CERT Responds to Flooding

On Sept. 14, 2008, the Naperville, IL CERT was activated by the Naperville Fire Department to help fill sandbags for residents affected by flooding in the area. Forty CERT volunteers were briefed and given sandbagging equipment at Naperville's municipal center before dispersing to several sandbagging locations throughout the city. Volunteers filled several thousand bags throughout the day that were then used to help protect homes and businesses.

"Aside from training exercises, this was the first time that the City of Naperville mobilized our CERT members in a coordinated effort through the city's human resources department," City of Naperville Emergency Preparedness Coordinator Lt. Dave Szablewski said. "They all did a fantastic job in supportactivities during the flood."

All of Naperville's approximately 60 active CERT members subscribe to a City Watch system, which helps mobilize volunteers during an emergency through automatically generated phone messages and e-mails.

"It went very well," said Naperville CERT member Angel Whitt, who helped fill sandbags for three hours. "CERT is such an amazing program. The residents were so thankful, and we really helped a lot."

For more information, please contact Angel Whitt, whittville@sbcglobal.net.

Parma, OH CERT Clears Snow From Hydrants

Following a major snowstorm in February 2009, Parma, OH Fire Chief John French sent a city-wide message urging residents to clear snow off fire hydrants on their blocks. Parma CERT Coordinator Brian Riegel sent a message to his team requesting volunteers to clear snow off fire hydrants that remained covered the following day.

This activation marked the second time in the last few years that Parma CERT had been mobilized to clear snow off of the hydrants. Working in teams, 24 CERT volunteers cleared more than 200 hydrants in the city of 85,000. Riegel said the activation provided a perfect opportunity for his team to practice accountability, safety, and organization in a non-threatening situation. By all accounts, the response was a success.

"We talked to several firefighters afterward, and they were all very appreciative," Riegel said. "It was something that needed to be done and should have been done."

For more information, please contact Brian Riegel, brianriegel@parmacert.com.

West Boylston, MA CERT Member Assists Car Crash Victim

In November 2008, West Boylston, MA CERT member and regional coordinator Jodi Sarkisian was driving to dinner when she came across a two-vehicle accident. The accident left one car facing the opposite direction and another woman trapped in her car, which was knocked off the road into an embankment. An off-duty firefighter arrived on the scene and parked his car in the road to alert approaching motorists there was an accident ahead, while Sarkisian carefully approached the other vehicle.

The woman inside was complaining of soreness in her neck. Drawing upon her CERT training, Sarkisian supported the woman's neck using a C-spine hold until firefighters arrived and stabilized the woman, loaded her onto a backboard, and removed her from the car.

"As they were loading her into the ambulance, she was holding my hand," Sarkisian said. "She just burst into tears and thanked me. A firefighter asked me what town I was a paramedic for, and, when I told him I was a CERT member, he said, 'You did a great job.' I would've never known how to do half the stuff I did if it wasn't for CERT."

The experience has inspired Sarkisian to take EMT classes this fall.

For more information, please contact Matt Shircliff, mshircliff@westboylstonfire.org.

Christian County, MO CERT Helps Clean Debris Following Ice Storm

Following a January 2009 ice storm, seven members of the Christian County, MO CERT made the 50-mile trip to Ozark County to help with the relief effort. Volunteers helped clear debris from the storm and assisted emergency management officials from nearby Greene County, who had been called in to help set up a command post.

"We went out and found a little old lady back in the woods who hadnt been able to get out of her driveway in over a week," said Christian County CERT Coordinator Ed Hultgren, whose team checked in on residents and helped clear debris from roadways.

The Christian County CERT spent one day in Ozark County helping with the relief effort.

"It was one of those last-minute things," said Hultgren. "We went up on a Sunday. A lot of members didn't want to go because they were going to church. I said, 'Let's go out and be the church.'"

Christian County has trained more than 200 people in the CERT Basic Training course.

For more information, please contact Ed Hultgren, ed@ruralcompassion.org.

 

March 2009

Montgomery County (MD) CERT Inauguration Response

Montgomery County, Maryland activated their CERT volunteers on January 20th as part of the National Capital Region 2009 Inauguration Response. The CERTs were activated by Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service to support emergency services and provide customer assistance at Metro rail transit stations in anticipation of over three million visitors attending the Inauguration in frigid cold temperatures. Under NIMS, the CERT members were integrated into the Metro Task Force working in and around the transit stations. The CERTs were assigned to five strategically identified Metro stations within the County. Prior to activation, the CERT members received supplemental training on evacuation, hypothermia,and accommodations for individuals with special needs.

Unique was the private partnership with the Strathmore Music Center, a commercial performance venue in the County. The Strathmore Center provided CERT HQ space with electrical power, television monitors, and working areas for mobile Internet and broadband connections for the team leaders. The CERT HQ was able to accommodate the command post, staging area, RACES station, and a comfort stop equipped with four changing rooms with showers and food service facilities. The HQ facility was immediately adjacent to a Metro station which was key to the mission for the CERT members during the Inauguration.

No major disruptions to the Inauguration occurred, but CERTs helped passengers with access, questions, and even finding "lost cars" when travelers got off at the wrong station. 47 CERT members provided 392 hours of service in support of the Inauguration. The Montgomery County Executive honored the CERT members at a special ceremony on February 12th.

Lee County, FL CERT Goes Above and Beyond

As Tropical Storm Fay approached Florida’s west coast on August 18, 2008, approximately 30 Lee County CERT volunteers worked feverishly to help residents brace for landfall. Some answered information phone lines, while others helped prepare two of the five emergency public shelters opened by Lee County Emergency Management Coordinator Josh Roberts. After Fay first hit, CERT volunteers worked and stayed in the shelters overnight to ensure the safety and well-being of some 500 residents.

A Florida-record four landfalls later, the storm was over. The CERT volunteers’ assistance, however, had only just begun. Devastating floods affected more than 200 residential units in the southern part of the county, prompting the American Red Cross to open a long-term shelter at a local community center. With the Red Cross’s resources stretched thin, Lee County CERT members stepped up again. Over the next seven weeks, 46 CERT volunteers – many of whom had returned to working full days at their regular jobs – donated their time to help ensure the safety of 600 people.

Roberts still remembers the pride he felt when he looked around the shelter each day and invariably saw green shirts and vests – the uniform of Lee County’s CERT volunteers. “I was proud that they stuck with it throughout that whole time,” he said. “It inspired me, and it inspires others to do more than just what our job description says. These folks went above and beyond.”

For more information, please contact Josh Roberts, emvolcoordinator@leegov.com.

DeBary, FL Volunteers Help Residents Weather Fay

City of DeBary Safety Coordinator Alan Williamson’s lasting image of Tropical Storm Fay is a common one: all the water. For six days beginning August 18, 2008, Fay zigzagged across Florida, leaving devastation, death, and, yes, lots of water in its wake. The residential community of DeBary wasn’t spared the effects of the storm, but thanks to the efforts of 22 CERT volunteers – one for every inch of rain that fell on the city – the damage was minimized.

After the storm caused pockets of residential flooding, Williamson activated CERT members to work with organizations such as the American Red Cross and FEMA to protect lives and property. CERT volunteers assisted in a variety of tasks, including traffic control, filling sandbags, delivering supplies to elderly residents and emergency responders, and staffing city phones. DeBary’s CERT, which contributed more than 200 hours, also documented damage, relayed important safety information to residents, and maintained security around affected areas. During the debriefing that followed, CERT members said that they felt better prepared to take care of themselves and their families during a disaster. “Being able to volunteer and help others showed that their training is effective and worthwhile,” Williamson said.

The flooding eventually dissipated, but the DeBary CERT’s contributions will not soon be forgotten. “The value of trained and motivated CERT members is a true blessing and cannot be measured,” Williamson said. 

For more information, please contact Alan Williamson, awilliamson@debary.org.

Reno County, KS CERT Travels to Help Out

A half-mile-wide tornado ripped through the center of the small town of Chapman, KS, on June 11, 2008, leaving one woman dead and 75 percent of homes either damaged or destroyed. Two days later, the Dickinson County emergency manager requested assistance from volunteers across Kansas. More than 20 local CERT Programs responded, including 16 volunteers from Reno County’s CERT Program who drove 100 miles each way to contribute a combined total of more than 400 hours to the relief effort.

In Chapman, Reno County CERT coordinator Tim Newman and his team members established a check-in station for the 1,000 unaffiliated volunteers who arrived to help. “CERT members were able to see a need and fulfill it due to their team organization skills,” Newman said. Two Reno County CERT members performed clerical duties at City Hall, filing and sorting records, answering phones, and preparing for press conferences and meetings. Seven members of the Reno County CERT returned to Chapman one week later to act as supervisors and safety officers for the groups of unaffiliated volunteers who were assisting in the cleanup, a system developed by Barton County CERT member Tina Rose. “The best part of the whole thing was that CERT members worked well together, no matter which county they were from and no matter what shade of green their vest was,” Newman said.

Newman is planning an exercise in May that will be based on the CERT responses to the Chapman tornado and the Greensburg, KS, tornado in 2007. The exercise will focus on establishing a base camp for CERT and other volunteer groups, utilizing spontaneous volunteers, and controlling traffic.

For more information, please contact Tim Newman, tim.newman@renogov.org.

Houston CERT Members Put Training to Good Use

Mary Ann Gonzales, who manages an apartment complex in Houston, signed up for CERT training because she wanted to know how to keep her tenants safe in the event of an emergency. “She really did her homework and was serious about the training,” Harris County-Denver Harbor CERT coordinator and instructor Andres Ortiz said. It’s a good thing she did.

In August 2008, a fire broke out in the apartment complex adjacent to Gonzales’s. Firefighters had the blaze under control by the time Gonzales and Janie Martinez, a fellow CERT graduate, arrived at the scene. The fire caused extensive damage, but nobody was injured. The two CERT members assisted the professional first responders by compiling a list of names and contact numbers for the people who were forced to evacuate the building.

Ortiz, who has worked to expand CERT in Houston’s Spanish-speaking communities through classes taught in Spanish, said another of his graduates recently responded to a two-alarm fire and set up a water station in the cold zone for responders and evacuees. “If my people can react and do the job, and do it honorably and reach the objective, it just brings me such honor to know that they learned from me and I learned from them,” Ortiz said.

For more information, please contact Andres Ortiz, gunnyortiz@comcast.net.

Morgan County, IN CERT Assists in Flood Response

It’s difficult to capture in words the awesome devastation caused by the flooding that ravaged central Indiana in June 2008. How can someone who wasn’t there begin to imagine what 11 inches of rain in 8 hours looks like? Morgan County CERT coordinator Mike Ellis suggests logging on to YouTube. There, you’ll find several homemade videos documenting the storm and its aftermath. While the 12 members from the CERT Program that Ellis oversees may not appear in the videos, they were there, lending their support to the recovery effort after being activated by Morgan County Emergency Management Director Jeff Neal.

“Our first response was to assist with sandbags and directing traffic,” Ellis said. “We played primarily a support role. I became the volunteer coordinator for the next six weeks, and we helped hand out food and disaster kits.” The flood closed a nearby hospital for five months and wiped out 75 percent of local farmers’ crops. Morgan County’s CERT Program held a meeting in October to discuss its involvement in the response and decided that the team’s activities had gone well, given the circumstances. As for lessons learned, Ellis said that the team agreed to have a larger staging area for future emergencies.

For more information, please visit vcomc.org.

Mammoth Lakes, CA CERT Assists in Fire Rescue

Shortly after a forest fire broke out a few miles southeast of Mammoth Lakes, CA, on August 3, 2008, first responders estimated the fire to be approximately one acre in size. By the next morning, it had spread over an estimated 225 acres, prompting the activation of the Mammoth Lakes CERT. Team members first provided support at Mammoth Lakes High School, where an emergency shelter had been set up to care for more than 100 people evacuated from a nearby YMCA camp.

As the need for the CERT members at the shelter decreased, they were asked to provide support at the incident command center in the town’s offices. Eight to 10 Mammoth Lakes CERT members operated a bank of phones from morning until night for two days, answering calls from residents and tourists concerned about the fire’s threat to the town. “People were calling in from all over,” Mammoth Lakes CERT member Sharon Clark said. “We rotated shifts and answered phones for almost 12 hours each day.” While Mammoth Lakes CERT members provided important information to the public, firefighters worked to get the blaze under control. The coordinated response ensured the safety and well-being of everyone involved. By the morning of the third day, the Mammoth Lakes CERT was no longer needed. 

For more information, please contact Harry White, mammothlakescert_pio@yahoo.com.

Crane Collapses in New York City

Two crane collapses this year have left New York City residents reeling. The first collapse occurred March 15, 2008 and the second happened May 30, 2008. The massive damages included nine deaths and thousands of dollars in destroyed property.

The second crane collapse occurred on the morning of May 30th in Manhattan. "The sound was like a thunder clap. Then, an earthquake," said Peter Barba, who lives across the street from the construction site. The crane snapped cleanly in two and collided with a nearby apartment building before hitting the street. Located at 333 East 91st Street, the site which will sport a 32-story condominium was immediately reduced to a disaster area. CERT volunteers were invaluable in restoring order to the chaos.

CERT members from Manhattan Community Board (CB) 8 Upper East Side, Manhattan CB8 East Side Neighborhood Association (ESNA), and Manhattan CB6 staffed the human services reception center immediately following the incident. CERTs remained on the scene for 4 days, continuously rotating their personnel in order to provide constant assistance in the recovery effort.

Six days after the collapse, Upper East Side CERT members and ESNA CERT members again volunteered their services. The city's Office of Emergency Management mobilized these two CERT units on June 5th to help escort residents back to their homes.

Wahpeton, ND CERTs Respond to Industrial Fire

On the morning of February 18, 2008, a fire broke out at the Industrial Plating Corp. in Wahpeton, North Dakota, which uses a variety of chemicals, including hydrochloric acid, sodium hydroxide, and zinc. Nearly 500 people were forced to evacuate their homes because of the risk of chemical exposure.

With temperatures well below zero, emergency shelters were immediately set up to shelter the evacuees from the cold. Nine CERT volunteers from the Dakota State College of Science (NDSCS) arrived to help with shelter and support operations.

An additional 15 CERT members helped provide security at traffic intersections near the site of the blaze, setting up road blocks around the perimeter of the disaster area to secure the site against unauthorized entry.

CERT volunteers helped 55 evacuees who stayed at the shelter for 6 hours until they were allowed to return home. The shelter volunteers registered people to make it easier for family members to find each other, helped find shelters for pets, and served lunch and provided information and updates to the evacuees.

The wide age range of the evacuees (from 5 to 92 years) and their diverse requirements presented a particular challenge. Pets were also a challenge for the volunteers, because many people were unwilling to evacuate without their pets. Several local businesses and people who were not required to evacuate were willing to take pets so that evacuees could leave knowing their pets were safe. A list of pet shelters, compiled before the incident, was of particular help, and demonstrated the importance of preparedness in even the smallest matters.

The CERT members who assisted in this event worked as a team using their CERT skills and came away from the disaster with newly acquired skills for the next event. “I was glad that we had a relatively small evacuation,” said one of the CERT members. “This was an excellent training opportunity for a larger disaster. It was a small part of town that was evacuated, and people were out of their homes for only a few hours. I certainly learned a lot that I will be able to use for future situations.”

 

September 2008

Brooktrails, CA Wildfire Activation

On the morning of Saturday, June 21, 2008, a lightning strike ignited a fire in Brooktrails near Willits, CA, in the North Coast area. The Brooktrails Fire Department (BTFD) responded, and the team initially dispatched to the scene found a fire burning on a hillside less than a mile away from Brooktrails homes. The Brooktrails Fire Department began fighting the fire, and successfully called Cal-Fire for six air drops of fire retardant. Additional ground fire crews came from outside the local area to support the effort.

BTFD Chief Daryl Schoeppner activated the Brooktrails CERT to perform support duties, and six volunteers responded. They relieved BTFD personnel of traffic control duties until the Mendocino County Sheriff's Department arrived to take over. CERT members then went door-to-door along Ridge Road and south of Goose Road and advised residents to evacuate with family, pets, and important possessions. Most families were already preparing to evacuate, but CERT members identified one family requiring assistance, and a Sheriff's Deputy was able to transport them to safety.

Thanks to quick, effective, and well-coordinated work by the first responders, including the CERT volunteers, the fire was contained by early afternoon. The BTFD and CERT members returned to the fire station for a post-operation debrief and lunch.

For more information, please contact Jerry Colvia, citizencorps@CaliforniaVolunteers.ca.gov, (916) 327-7646.

CERT Activation for Power Outage in Miami, FL - CERT to the Rescue

During a recent regional and statewide power outage in Miami, Florida, the University of Miami 'Canes Emergency Response Team was activated to assist with traffic management at congested intersections where traffic signals were out. The local police station had previously trained many University of Miami CERT members in traffic management. Their quick response and excellent skills were put to the test in the power outage. The Miami-Dade County Department of Emergency Management & Homeland Security is the host agency for the County CERT Program, and is extremely proud of these great teams.

For more information, please contact Lorenzo Sanchez, lorenzo.sanchez@miamidade.gov.

CERT Helps in Branson, MO Flash Floods

When flash floods threatened residents of Branson, Missouri, eight CERT volunteers were there to help. Branson Fire and Rescue activated the City of Branson CERT during the flash floods of April 10 & 11, 2008. CERT volunteers went door-to-door, alerting residents of the imminent threat and making them aware of the voluntary evacuation call. CERT members worked in the affected areas along the Taneycomo Lakefront, in Sunset Park, and along Canal Street. CERT members performed above and beyond the initial tasks, remaining on-site after the event to assist with the cleanup process.

For more information, please contact Carl Sparks, csparks@cityofbranson.org.

CERTs Support Olympic Trials in Eugene, OR

The 2008 U.S.A. Olympic Trials were held this year in Eugene, Oregon from June 27th through July 6th. The City of Eugene activated the Eugene CERT and 64 volunteers from Eugene and Springfield responded to the call. CERT members initially provided support to the American Red Cross and the Eugene Fire Department, but due to shortages from other volunteer groups and the huge crowd surges, the CERT's duties were greatly expanded.

CERT volunteers helped to check bags, performed wanding, helped with crowd control, and assisted with traffic control. CERT volunteers also played a large part in general public safety: they provided directions, helped lost individuals, and assisted those with special needs. They were radio-dispatched with paramedics into the crowds whenever there was a medical need. On days when the temperatures soared to over 95 degrees, CERT volunteers ran a well-organized brigade of wheelchairs, caring for attendees who suffered from heat exhaustion. CERT became the "go-to" group wherever there was a shortage of personnel in any support area. They helped to sweep buses for worrisome parcels, monitored passengers as they boarded or deboarded shuttles, and handed out 600 bikes at the Bike Valet Park at the end of the daily events.

As attendance at the Olympic Trials swelled to more than 25,000 people, CERT members volunteered for shifts up to 10 hours long and proved to be very dependable. The CERT volunteers at the Olympic Trials were incredibly dedicated and highly motivated, and played an important role in the event.

For more information, please contact Geoff Simmons, GSimmons@peacehealth.org.

Last Updated: 
07/24/2014 - 16:00
Back to Top