EMA looking for volunteers   

By Abby Morris
star staff

  Members of the Local Emergency Planning Committee heard from local Emergency Management Agency Director Ernest Jackson about a new program sposored by a Homeland Security grant which will help prepare communities for a natural or man-made disaster.
  According to Jackson, the Elizabethton/Carter County EMA is now looking for voluteers for the Community Action and Response to Emergency Situations (CARES) Team.
  "It sets up five, six, seven, eight people in a community and what they do is after an emergency situation they focus on the community where they live," Jackson said.
  Volunteers with the CARES Team will be trained in a variety of ares such as damage assessment, fire supression, patient triage and severe weather. For example, in the event of a flood, members of the CARES Team would respond to the communities where they live and assist emergency personnel by giving information about flooded roads, places where relief centers could be set up, contacting residents who may need to be evacuated and many other things.
  "The idea of the community-based responders is for them to be 'the first of the first responders'," Jackson said.
  If a volunteer lives in the Stoney Creek community, then in the event of an emergency situation, they would work with emergency personnel in the Stoney Creek area. "The concept is you would not pull people out of one community to put in another," Jackson said, adding that there is some flexibility in the program so that if one part of the county is hit harder than another volunteers can be moved if necessary.
  Volunteers for the program would have to attend four evening classes to participate in the program. According to Jackson, Homeland Security grant money was given to the EMA to use to purchase the training materials for the program.
  "We're just looking for people in the community who are willing to help," Jackson said.
  Anyone interested in becoming a member of the CARES Team should contact the Elizabethton/Carter County EMA office at (423) 542-1888.