The all-volunteer CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) of Cannon Beach will be supervised by the Cannon Beach Police Department.
CERT members — who get trained and certified in first aid, disaster preparedness, evacuation protocols, the Incident Command System and the National Incident Management System — are most often seen at major community events, like Sandcastle Day, and emergencies, like dangerous coastal storms.
Their essential duties often include crowd control, directing traffic, setting up radio communication and providing “a reassuring presence,” said Lianne Thompson, a former Cannon Beach CERT leader who stepped down to focus on her new role as the Clatsop County commissioner for District 5.
CERT “just gives you more of a cadre of people to count on if there’s an emergency,” said Cannon Beach Police Chief Jason Schermerhorn.
Cannon Beach Fire and Rescue has overseen Cannon Beach’s CERT program since 2013, but it wasn’t making use of the roughly 20 active volunteers as often as the police department would, Fire Chief Mike Balzer said.
Moreover, “we don’t have the manpower or the budget to take on a whole CERT program,” he added. “I think they can use them better in the city.”
Cannon Beach Fire and Rescue, which is not a city department but a rural fire protection district, has two paid staff members — Balzer and Capt. Matt Gardner. The police department has nine paid staff members, plus the lifeguards and parking information officers during the summer.
More available staff members means more opportunities for training and reinforcing the CERT volunteers’ “muscle memory” of emergency response, Thompson said.
CERT, “both locally and on a wider scale, is in a state of flux” because, with the effects of climate change, there is a greater potential for natural disasters, she said.
Schermerhorn is seeking a new Cannon Beach CERT leader as well as arranging for more CERT training.
Team members will work closely with their fellow CERTs in Arch Cape and Falcon Cove, Cannon Beach’s emergency preparedness committee and cache container subcommittee, and potentially the lifeguards, Schermerhorn said.
“They’re just another great asset the city’s proud to bring on board,” he said.