DURHAM — Whether its downed trees, low hanging power lines or the inevitable snowstorm, there’s a lot of work during the winter for the emergency management department.
Kevin Donovan, director of emergency management, wants to develop a community emergency response team, a plan that has gained traction in other towns.
When the team is activated, volunteers would assist in the emergency operations center inside Town Hall, answering phones and doing administrative work.
“If we’re able to detail some of the routine work during emergencies, it frees us up to do other work,” Donovan said. “During a storm, you’ll start to run out of people to respond to calls... More hands make light work.”
His goal is to attract 10 to 15 people, he said.
Volunteers could be doing things out in the field; the two-day training includes power line safety and directing traffic, but more likely they would be in the emergency operations center, he said.
Emergency management coordinates contact between fire, public works, EMS and Eversource, “making sure everybody is doing the best they can with the resources,” Donovan said.
It’s an oversight role to account for and kept track of everything during emergency activations, which can happen during storms or for planned events, like the Durham Fair.
It’s not steady work, but it’s important work.
“They’d only be needed in emergencies, other than meetings and training events,” he said. “We may have a bad winter where we use them a lot and then spring comes around and we don’t use them for three or four months.”
Donovan was appointed in July and said he’s taking on several projects including jumpstarting the CERT team.
“A number of towns around us have pretty successful CERT teams,” he said. “We’re following their model.”
Hamden formed a CERT team around 2004. When Hamden Fire Chief David Berardesca arrived in 2006, he reorganized the program, giving the small group of volunteers more training and more responsibility in the field.
Hamden’s CERT team has more than 40 members and is one of busiest in the state, he said. The team is activated no less than 20 times a year mostly for planned events including local fireworks, concerts and festivals.
“Our CERT team is very sought after for their ability to work with public,” Berardesca said.
The CERT team attracts people who want to do work for community, but didn’t know what to do, he said.
“If you ask the administration in town, they’ll tell you they’re indispensable,” he said. “I wonder what other towns at big events do without these teams.”
Anyone interested can contact Donovan at email@example.com.
“We’ll take anyone that’s willing to come help out,” Donovan said.
There’s no deadline to apply. Volunteers must be at least 18 years old. No emergency response training is required but is helpful.