The Van Wert County Courthouse

Tuesday, May. 24, 2022

County emergency response team formed

SCOTT TRUXELL/independent writer

Van Wert County has a new team ready to respond to local emergencies.

The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) is nationally recognized and supported by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, but is made up of trained local volunteers ready to assist the Van Wert County EMA, local law enforcement officers, and emergency responders when needed.

Members of Van Wert County’s newly formed Community Response Team (in green) are joined by local law enforcement officers, emergency responders and EMA Director Rick McCoy. Scott Truxell/Van Wert independent

EMA Director Rick McCoy said CERT is a program he’s been thinking about since September 11, 2001, and he said the newly formed team consists of former members of the American Red Cross disaster team.

“It’ll be somewhat the same of what they did before,” McCoy said of the Community Response Team. “When a call comes in from the fire department saying they need assistance, instead of asking for Red Cross they’ll ask for Van Wert CERT.

We have the old Van Wert EMA mobile command out here and we’re hoping to upgrade in the future and have a nicer and better vehicle, but that will get us going for the time being,” McCoy added.

In addition to helping emergency responders and victims at fire scenes, team members will be trained to assist in other areas.

“They’ll be receiving training from our law enforcement agencies on traffic control to close down highways or re-routing traffic,” McCoy explained. “Other things we’d like to do is (storm) damage assessments.”

“They’ll also be capable of setting up cooling centers in the summertime and heating centers in the winter, and they’ll have the availability to do sheltering.”

McCoy also said that, in cases of larger disaster situations where Van Wert CERT could be overwhelmed, he’ll still reach out to the local Civil Air Patrol, Salvation Army, and the Red Cross national hotline for additional assistance.

The EMA director also stressed that, in addition to being made up of local volunteers, monetary donations made by individuals, businesses and organizations to the new response team will stay in Van Wert County.

Donation checks may be made payable to: CERT/Van Wert County Foundation, 138 E. Main St., Van Wert, OH 45891.

“We will be doing some fund drives and asking for financial donations,” McCoy said. “The money will stay here. It won’t go toward some national program that you don’t know where the funds are.”

Donations will be funneled through the Van Wert County Foundation and will be tax deductible.

POSTED: 01/30/18 at 7:21 am. FILED UNDER: News