WEST HARTFORD — During Tropical Storm Isaias, a police sergeant was at one point tasked with calling in downed telephone poles, pulling them away from other duties, according to an official.
But with the help of the Community Emergency Response Team, which is forming again in town, that might not have to be the case during a future crisis.
Bob McCue, deputy director of emergency management, said they are considering having a member of the team step in if a similar situation occurs, allowing a police sergeant to “go out on the road to handle emergencies.”
And a call has been put out for volunteers for the team. McCue said they’d been looking to fill their first 30-person class, but about 60 people expressed interest as of last week.
“So we’re very pleased with the recruitment so far,” he said.
When he was brought on to help with emergency management about 1 ½ years ago, McCue said he’d been tasked with looking into reorganizing the team. There was one in place “back around 2009 for a short period of time,” but it “kind of faded away” when Fire Chief William Austin exited his role.
Members complete a 20-hour course, broken up in modules, that covers topics such as first aid and preparing for emergencies and disasters, according to McCue. Once the trainings — which are free — are successfully finished, volunteers would get backpacks with equipment and CERT shirts, he said.
Members could help out at events such as the Memorial Day or Park Road parades, he said, as well as taking on roles such as working emergency shelters during emergency situations.
“The goal is also to prepare as many people in town through the program, so that when an emergency happens, they are actually prepared,” McCue said. “So that reduces the number of folks that are gonna need some help during, if the power goes out or something like that.”
Volunteers would need to be at least 18, which is the “only real requirement,” according to McCue.
“Whatever skill sets they have, whatever their ability is to assist, that’s what we’re looking for,” he said. “It’s a very inclusive group.”
CERT programs are not unique to this area — according to ready.gov, they exist nationwide as well as in “many tribal nations and U.S. territories.”
Those who would like to get involved with the West Hartford team can complete an interest form.