November 23, 2014
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Mayor, chief recruit volunteers to assist in emergencies
Nick Howard

The mayor and fire chief believe there are a lot of people ready to assist in times of need and emergency, and yesterday they set out to recruit them.

Mayor Scott Avedisian, with Edmund Armstrong at his side, announced the revival of the Warwick Community Response Team (CERT). This initiative comes out of the mayor’s belief that “going into a bad situation, we need to know we are covered” and people who know Warwick are in a better position to help.

The program, which initially ran eight years ago, finds new life following a $5,000 grant from the Emergency Management Agency (EMA). Chris Albro, who volunteered for the position and has also served on the Grant Committee, will run the program.

Albro hopes to begin training somewhere between the middle and end of June. It will run for 20 hours and the exact schedule is yet to be determined. He said that he wants to talk to the participants and figure out what works best for them. Armstrong gave the figure of 10 as a goal for the training but no minimum amount is necessary. All participants must be 18 years of age or older. The Warwick Police Department will screen all potential volunteers through background checks.

Both Avedisian and Armstrong said there is no cap set on the amount of volunteers. Armstrong put it plainly when he said, “We’ll take as many people as want to volunteer.” Avedisian spoke of the possibility that some volunteers may not be able to assist during an emergency because of inaccessibility or family responsibilities and expressed a desire to have “more than we need.”

During this past fall’s flu shot drive, members of the mayor’s office, Armstrong and the mayor himself had to volunteer. Both Avedisian and Armstrong admitted that more help was still needed. As the mayor phrased it at the start of yesterday’s announcement, “We can’t do it all alone.”

A coinciding force behind this revival is the notion that Warwick can and should take care of Warwick. Avedisian stated his conviction that, “We can’t just hope someone is going to do something,” that someone referring to outside groups and agencies.

Avedisian and Armstrong cited the existing groundswell of volunteers in the city. They see this program as “training for those already there to help.” They both reported folks consistently calling them up to volunteer at various events put on by the city. Among these are “snowbirds” that spend their summers in the city and want to lend a helping hand. In addition, those who have previously participated in the Citizens Police Training Academy are viewed as a group who could have interest in the program.

Participants in CERT can expect to volunteer in a whole host of ways. In a release, Avedisian and Armstrong listed “severe weather monitoring, emergency operations support, shelter operations, communications, emergency preparedness education, and point of distribution management” as potential areas of need.

Having learned from dealing with floods, hurricanes and blizzards, Avedisian said, “Shelter, food, medicine, that’s our priority.” And it is the intention that CERT will better help these essentials reach the people who need them.

Those interested in the CERT program can call 738-2000 ext. 5000 or email war.ema@warwickri.com.


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