Marion volunteers honored at Select Board meeting
MARION — At the Sept. 7 meeting of the Marion Select Board, there was cause for celebration as members of the Marion Community Emergency Response Team, or CERT, were awarded diplomas for completing a months-long course.
“It’s an exciting day for the Marion emergency management agency,” said Police Chief Richard Nighelli, who along with Fire Chief Brian Jackvony handed out the diplomas to nine graduates of the program.
CERT is a national program that educates volunteers in disaster preparedness, training them in fire safety, search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations, said Nighelli.
During extreme situations, like floods or other natural disasters, CERT volunteers can handle some basic tasks, “allowing our first responders to focus on more complex tasks,” he said.
Already, CERT volunteers have made an impact in the community.
“We participated in water distribution last fall during the water ban and distributed Covid-19 tests last winter,” Nighelli said.
And this graduating class of CERT volunteers comes at an important time.
“With hurricane season upon us and the winter season soon to follow, there will be additional opportunities to help our community,” he said.
He continued to say that volunteers may find themselves opening shelters during power outages, getting alerts out to the public, managing crowds, and checking on elderly residents.
While anyone of any ability could be a CERT volunteer, Nighelli said, some graduates of the program saw their training as a natural extension of their day-to-day jobs.
Lauren Roberts, who works with the Marion Police Department as an administrative assistant and assistant records officer, said she was already trained in CPR and first aid but that she still learned a lot from the program.
“Some of the disaster training was new to me,” said Roberts. “I liked the fire safety day, we used the extinguisher — I had never done that before. I don’t think we’ll be doing much of that in town but it’s good to have that knowledge.”
“[Training] is very thorough,” said Lawrence Robert, who is a crisis manager for the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. “It sets the guidelines for how and when we get involved. Our roles and responsibilities are limited but we can still help people. It’s a good way to give back to the community.”