The St. Lawrence County Citizen Corps is seeking volunteers for their Community Emergecny Reaction Teams and for the Citizen Corps Council.
When a large scale disaster strikes, it may take the fire department, police and rescue personnel some time to reach you. In addition, in the midst of responding to any disaster, there are always a miriad of tasks that need to get taken care of but our first responders shouldn’t be distracted from saving lives to get them done.
It is the Citizen Corps and their Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) that fill these gaps.
The St. Lawrence County Board of Legislators approved their sponsorship of a county Citizen Corps on Apr 8. Since then, the county’s Citizen Corps Steering Committee has been working to form their permanent council’s by-laws, charter and other founding documents approved. Another important step is registering the county Citizen Corps with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and with the New York Citizen Corps.
Now, the St. Lawrence County Citizen Corps Council is prepared to take the next step.
The group is now building the organization that will be a vibrant and active Citizen Corp program for the county.
“Right now we are looking for three types of volunteers” said Tom Tomlins, the Citizen Corps Council Chair. “We need good, solid citizens to come join the Citizen Corps Council and to volunteer for the CERT teams.”
A key volunteer position in the county Citizen Corps organization is the CERT Program Manager. “The program manager serves as the liaison between the Citizen Corps Council and the CERT Teams” explained Joe Gilbert, member of the Citizen Corps Steering Committee. “The Program Manager guides the implementation of the council’s directives and helps the teams with day to day operations, planning and training” he continued.
Volunteers are screened and background checks are performed. Once that checks out, then they can begin training.
The CERT Basic Training program is a minimum of seven classes and covers such topics as first aid, extinguishing small fires, and performing damage assessments following a disaster.
“After their basic training, there will be opportunities for the volunteers to receive advanced CERT training too” Gilbert said. This advanced training will be on search and rescue, land navigation, advanced communications and incident command training.
“If someone wants to help in a disaster, but doesn’t know what to do, the Citizen Corps is a great place to start” commented council member Brandi Wells.
Whenever a disaster strikes, volunteers come to offer assistance. During the 1998 ice storms, for example, many volunteers came to the County offices to help. But, by the time the disaster happens, its too late.
With the Citizen Corps program, citizens can receive training and organization beforehand. That way, when they will be much more an asset in the midst of a crisis.
If you are interested in volunteering for the St. Lawrence County Citizen Corps, please contact the St. Lawrence County Department of Emergency Services at email@example.com or 315-379-2240.