Monday, June 1, 2009

We Appreciate Our Volunteers!

On Friday, May 29th, emergency service volunteers were honored at the Luepke Center for displaying their "Purpose in Action" throughout 2009.
This is an annual event to recognize volunteers for their countless hours and service contributions on behalf of the American Red Cross Disaster Action Teams, Medical Reserve Corps, Vancouver Police's Neighbors on Watch (NOW) Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT), Amateur Radio Emergency Services, Clark Regional EOC Volunteers and the Volunteer Mobilization Center.

Each volunteer agency provides emergency response support to Clark County in the following ways:
Disaster Action Team (DAT) team members from the American Red Cross respond to residential fires throughout Clark County, providing shelter, food and clothing to displaced residents. They also canteen fire fighters and provide meals to emergency responders during crisis responses.

Members of Region IV Medical Reserve Corps are trained medical professionals and support staff who provide additional capacity to the health department when it surges for particular events. Recently, during the H1N1 Swine Flu activities, Medical Reserve Corps volunteers were able to put their training into action for the Health Department. Neighbors on Watch, with the Vancouver Police Department, provide strong community-based support to police officers. They patrol neighborhoods with their keen observation skills and are radio-trained so that they can connect immediately with emergency responders to provide rapid public safety responses.

Amateur Radio operators provide support to the Emergency Operations Center, American Red Cross, hospitals and schools throughout the county to provide back-up communications to public safety agencies. They also monitor river gauges and provide early warning information for rivers that regularly flood throughout the county.

CERT and Emergency Operations Center Volunteers support a number of community-wide public education events and participate in emergency response through efforts which may include sandbagging, answering phone calls in a public inquiry center, and filling in gaps with extra hands wherever they are called to help.

The Volunteer Mobilization Center volunteers are a cadre of trained folks who are preparing to handle the influx of spontaneous volunteers during emergencies. It wasn't long ago that we all remember the number of volunteers who came forward to assist with Hurricane Katrina. Agencies struggled to effectively place and handle volunteers with such willing hearts. Now, fortunately, in Clark County, plans are being developed to be able to respond to this need.

Whether visible to the community or working behind the scenes, we are incredibly grateful for the willingness, spirit and talents that these many volunteers bring to our community. Volunteers give of themselves every day to simply help others and for that, we owe you our eternal gratitude.

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