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CERT volunteers help with county vaccine clinics

LISBON — When those getting their COVID-19 vaccine doses at the Columbiana County Fairgrounds Vaccination Complex first enter the property, they are greeted by a group from the county Community Emergency Response Team (CERT).

With 26 active members trained in various emergency and disaster preparedness, this group of volunteers is partnering with the Columbiana County Health Department for each of the clinics at the fairgrounds.

CERT Program Manager Debra Moore said providing traffic control for community events, food distribution programs and the COVID vaccination clinics is just a small portion of what the Columbiana County CERT group is trained to do.

Because of our location in eastern Ohio, Moore said the Columbiana County CERT group trains extensively for local needs, such as a decontamination in Middleton Township should there be a problem at the nearby nuclear power plant. The local group is trained to assist the Wellsville Fire Department in setting up the flood walls.

Members train in first aid triage to assist the coroner should there be a mass casualty event. Members learn basic fire suppression. Some are trained to do damage assessment in the case of tornadoes, storms and floods and report that information to the FEMA and OEMA. Local fire chiefs can call them to assist in search and rescue efforts.

Some training includes disaster psychology to help people deal with the situation. At the fairgrounds Moore said the volunteers are not only making sure those arriving have registered for a vaccination, but they are trying to put them at ease knowing the coronavirus pandemic has caused more stress than usual and some people could be concerned about getting vaccinated. Volunteering at the vaccination clinics have led to members of the group being there two days a week, once for those getting their first vaccine dose and another day for those getting their second dose.

The group is sponsored by the local Emergency Management Agency, working with Director Peggy Clark, who will call them when support is needed. Additionally, Moore said the local CERT group is well known throughout the state and have been nationally recognized in the Nation CERT Journal for their organization. The Columbiana County group has six CERT trainers and four CERT program managers, who work to help train each other and help other nearby organizations with training as well.

Many members of the group have trained for several years, although they start with 20 hours of basic training. Everyone has clean background checks and are registered through the Ohio Responds Volunteer Registry. While there is a lot of training, Moore said the members of the group get to know each other well and become friends. They have weekends where they practice living off the land.

“We’re blessed to have really great team members,” Moore said. “These are people who really care a lot.”

Current donations to the non-profit 501C3 Columbiana County CERT Association are being used to set up a mobile unit, which can be taken to a location where the team is working and provide shelter, warming and cooling capabilities and supplies. Donations are tax deductible.

The next drive-up clinic is scheduled today although it is too late to sign up. To sign up for future clinics call 330-429-5197, 330-692-2210 or 330-429-5133

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