Ocean City’s volunteer Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) — which typically convenes in hurricanes and blizzards — met Thursday on a gorgeous June evening to eat, chat and relax.
Formed in 2005, the team has attracted about 100 volunteers who supplement professional rescue personnel during winter storms, hurricanes, flooding events, relocations after fires and large-scale training exercises. CERT volunteers helped conduct a massive evacuation of Ocean City before Superstorm Sandy and to man a makeshift shelter at Ocean City High School during the storm.
But volunteers trained in different years may have never been introduced to their team members, and Thursday’s meet-and-greet at the Ocean City Fire Department offered an opportunity for them to get to know each other, according to Frank Donato, Ocean City’s emergency management coordinator. About 30 to 40 signed up to attend the event.
Participants are trained in classes run by Ocean City Police Det. Scott Morgan, who helped create the program in Ocean City.
Morgan is now working to form a CERT team in Upper Township, and because evacuation shelters for Ocean City residents are set up in the township during emergencies, the two teams could work and train together, Donato said.
Classes for new CERT volunteers are typically held in the fall.