Neighborhood CERT — Don’t Overlook This Resource
A Fantastic Resource for your Neighborhood CERT Group
I try to keep feeding you with real-life stories about our neighborhood CERT group – what we do to attract volunteers, what works, what doesn’t. This is another chapter in the on-going saga.
And this one is a real success story.
Visit from the Fire Department
Last fall, at the first meeting after the summer break, our Homeowners Association invited the local fire station to send over some firefighters to talk about what to expect in the case of an earthquake. A big quake had hit Sonoma, in Northern California, just two months earlier, so everyone remembered the fires and the devastation, and was eager to talk about it anyway.
Since I was in charge of the agenda as President of the HOA (!), I took advantage of the situation.
First, I prepared a slide show for the fire department.
- I used current news photos interspersed with a few other choice examples of failed foundations, street collapses and trashed home interiors.
- I included special slides customized for our type of housing, our age group, etc.
- I customized the slide show with THEIR logo and contact info.
The plan worked perfectly.
Result: Over 100 residents of our community showed up for the meeting.
While they came to see the firefighters, not to hear about emergency preparedness from our CERT group, they got our message!
Training session for the Fire Department
Then last week, the Captain of that local station called us, and asked if they could hold a training session for new recruits here in our community!
I’ll be writing more about how the training session went. The point of this Advisory — if you reach out to your local fire station, you are likely to get an enthusiastic response.
Make it easy for them
Response from your local fire department is likely to be even more enthusiastic if you –
- Take the time to create an engaging and useful presentation for them – and give them the chance to edit and practice it. (As it turned out, the Captain we had been working with wasn’t able to make the meeting, so he passed the slide show on to a colleague and HE became our speaker. Smooth.)
- Put them on the meeting agenda right up front, so they don’t have to wait through any business.
- Provide a question and answer period. By and large, firefighters are eager to educate the public, and this is a great opportunity for them. Our crew brought handouts for everyone.
Naturally, planning with firefighter teams is tricky, because wherever they are, their radios are blipping and buzzing, and they could be called away at any moment.
And the main challenge, as always, is pulling together a large enough crowd to justify the crew taking time away from the station.
In our case, we have a community that is used to assembling for a monthly HOA meeting. You may need to combine forces with a local school or local church to find the right facility and attract enough people. But if you can, I think you’ll find both the crowd and the firefighters to be appreciative of your efforts.
And ultimately, lives may be saved. That’s really the point of it all!
Action Item: Set up a presentation from your local fire department for your group. Let us know how it goes!
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team
Are you trying to build, or maintain, a local CERT group? Let me know in an email, and I’ll be sure you get all my tips for organizing.
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