The organization that trains volunteers to staff Galt’s special events and assignments — such as December’s warming centers — has run out of funding and is once again turning to the community for financial assistance.
The Galt-Elk Grove Community Emergency Response Team program educates people in disaster preparedness for specific hazards in the area, and trains them in basic disaster response skills such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization and disaster medical operations.
Using the skills learned in the classroom and during exercises, CERT members can then assist others in their neighborhood or workplace during an emergency when professional responders are not immediately available to help, according to Cosumnes firefighter Robert Brouwer, CERT program coordinator.
But in Aug. 2013, he hinted at a funding issue as federal grant funds were dwindling.
Now, after the elimination of that money on Dec. 31, 2013, CERT’s coordinators are in need of community support to continue the program. Tax-deductible donations from citizens and businesses as well as county and state government agencies are welcomed and encouraged.
“We have some supplies and dedicated volunteers who are willing to help carry the program on as we try and get donations for the program,” Brouwer said this week.
CERT member Gary Sack is out daily trying to gather donations by talking to area companies. The last donation came from Elk Grove VIPS, for six new radios.
Future fundraising events could include offering basic first-aid training to employees at local businesses and churches in exchange for a contribution to CERT, Brouwer said at a Galt City Council meeting last month.
More than 1,500 community members have been trained since the program started. The community program is coordinated by the Cosumnes Fire Department, with volunteers from both Galt and Elk Grove.
They are encouraged to support emergency response agencies by taking an active role in emergency preparedness projects in their communities.
Most recently, CERT members opened warming centers at the Galt Parks and Recreation Department and in Elk Grove, so those without heat could have a safe place to stay when overnight temperatures dipped into the low 20s in December.
The centers, coordinated by Cosumnes Fire Department Special Operation Divisions Capt. Richard Haas and Galt Police Sgt. Craig Walton, were staffed by more than a dozen CERT members for about a week.
“They dedicated their entire night to making sure there was a center for our citizens to go when they had nowhere else to turn,” Brouwer said.
CERT volunteers also assist firefighters and police with a variety of annual community events, including the Galt Strawberry Festival and Fourth of July celebration.
The team has also been called upon to assist Galt police with situations such as the shootings of Galt Police Officer Kevin Tonn in Jan. 2013 and Sacramento County Animal Control Officer Roy Marcum in Nov. 2012. CERT members assisted at the command posts and with various duties, including perimeter control of the crime scenes, allowing officers to concentrate on more critical tasks, Brouwer said.
They also provided traffic control before during and after Tonn’s funeral in Roseville. Members spent hours out on the roadway and parking lots, directing hundreds of attendees.
Anyone interested in donating to CERT or becoming actively involved with the local team is encouraged to visit www.elkgrovegaltcert.org, or call CERT administrative assistant Marisela Suarez at 916-753-1952 or 916-405-7100. Registration is currently being accepted for March training classes.
Contact reporter Jennifer Bonnett at firstname.lastname@example.org.