SEQUIM – Eight volunteers who are part of the Eastern Clallam County Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) have been named recipients of the President’s Volunteer Service Award for 2021.
The President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation has founded this recognition each year for people “whose service positively impacts communities in every corner of the country and inspires those around them to take action as well,” according to organizers. from the program.
Representatives from Clallam County Fire District 3 on Thursday presented volunteer service awards to each of these volunteers, who each contributed several hundred hours of unpaid public service to their community in 2021:
• Gold (Over 500 hours of service in calendar year) — Keith Koehler, Cindy Zechenelly, Blaine Zechenelly.
• Money (250-499 hours) — John Anzalotti, Judi Chapman, David Johannssohn, John Viada, Butch Zaharias.
CERT trains citizen volunteers to augment and improve the fire district’s ability to fulfill its mission during major emergencies.
“In times of overwhelming demand on limited first responder resources, the addition of CERT-trained volunteers provides local fire commanders with a force multiplier that can be deployed and directed to great effect,” representatives noted. from Eastern Clallam County CERT.
“CERT volunteers offer their services free of charge, and such assistance, when properly trained and organized, is extremely cost effective.”
Local CERT volunteers have also been called upon to assist in the search for lost children, equip emergency coordination centers, participate in food distribution efforts, participate in mass vaccination operations and assist the American Red Cross and other relief organizations in mass care and shelter activities.
The eight winners were primarily involved in two major CERT activities during the COVID-19 pandemic: the drive-through vaccination effort and the food distribution effort.
CERT officials note that “the sudden availability of COVID-19 vaccination supplies in January 2021 was met with overwhelming enthusiasm and public demand for immediate access to promised vaccinations.”
The Jamestown S’Klallam Tribal Medical Clinic in Sequim provided the vaccines, but needed more logistical resources to handle the large number of people who would need to be seen and individually checked for treatments.
The City of Sequim and Fire District 3 were able to muster a workforce of 180 CERT-trained volunteers. These volunteers worked in three teams of 60 people to guide and manage the flow of vehicle traffic in the Carrie Blake Community Park, the vaccination tent and the post-vaccination waiting areas. In four months, more than 25,500 people received both Moderna vaccines (initial and booster), exceeding 51,000 separate injections.
CERT volunteers guided more than 20,000 automobiles through the drive-thru vaccination clinic without a single accident or injury, organizers noted.
CERT volunteers have also been busy throughout the pandemic providing emergency food aid to families suffering from loss of income and related work restrictions.
In partnership with the Feed America Program and the Sequim Food Bank, CERT volunteers operated a Community Distribution Point (CPOD) in Sequim that provided weekly food parcels to local families in need.
In the last six months of 2020 and the first six months of 2021, local CERT volunteers delivered more than 1.02 million pounds of relief food to the community, organizers said – or around 850,000 meals put directly available to families in need.
“The examples set by East Clallam County CERT volunteers, both in the drive-thru clinic and in the food distribution efforts, not only met the immediate needs of the local public, but also highlighted the potential value of future inter-agency partnerships in general, and the immediate availability of CERT volunteer contributions in particular,” said CERT representatives.
To learn more about the President’s Volunteer Service Award program, visit presidentialserviceawards.gov/about.
For more information on CERT, visit: ccfd3.org/emergency-services/community-emergency-response-teams-cert-program.