What do you do for the City?
I have been the Marin County CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) Coordinator since May 2011. Prior to that time, I worked as a nurse for 25 years with some years at home, raising my three children. Before 2011 each town’s CERT program was independent in its training schedule; now we have one CERT training format for all Marin County residents. San Rafael has 375 active CERT volunteers. CERT is a national program under FEMA, providing lessons for residents in fire suppression, first aid, light search and rescue and team organization. During the 18 hour training, volunteers learn to assist their neighbors in an emergency/disaster until professional public safety officials arrive. We also manage the county’s preparedness website, www.readymarin.org.
What do you enjoy most about working with volunteers?
I love working with CERT volunteers as they bring so many skills and life experiences into the classes. The primary reason most people take the class is to learn how to help their families and neighbors in the event of an emergency. That desire to be helpful in their community at a time of need reflects that best part of human nature and we certainly see that in the participants of our classes.
How has the CERT program helped your community?
One of the benefits of the CERT program in San Rafael has been the energy and commitment seen in CERT members to work within their neighborhoods to help each other become organized for a disaster. Making sure that neighbors have food, water and first aid supplies in the event of a disaster such as an earthquake, would ensure that they are able to be self-sufficient and take care of their families. That was not an expectation of students in the CERT class but developed out of this desire to be helpful and supportive of those who they live next to.
Describe an event or activity that would not happen without volunteers?
Since I am the only ‘staff member’ in the program, our classes would not happen if it weren’t for our wonderful volunteers, helping to keep up our database, prepare the supplies for the classes, setting up the classroom, and they welcome and check in the students as they arrive. I would especially like to say a BIG thank you to Diane Ayers, our Volunteer Coordinator, who is also a Marinwood CERT and Marin Medical Reserve Corp member.
What would you suggest to those considering volunteering with CERT and the City of San Rafael?
Take the time to find a volunteer opportunity and just do it! You can often set your own hours and choose from an assortment of tasks and locations. It’s a great way to meet folks and feel that you have contributed to our lovely community. You can even increase your skills and expand the reach of your own contributions with organizations such as CERT.
The next CERT training in San Rafael takes place on November 12th. Join San Rafael’s Community Emergency Response Team! Click here to learn more or sign up. Check out www.readymarin.org for further information on getting ready for an emergency.