Enthusiasm and dedication characterize the volunteer service of the members of the Monroe County Health Department Community Emergency Response Team that has been selected as recipients of the 2015 Governor’s Service Award.
On Aug. 8, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin honored their dedication to service at the annual Governor’s Service Awards luncheon at the Charleston Civic Center. The event is held as a part of Faces of Leadership, the annual state conference on community service, program management and volunteerism.
Presented since 1995, the Governor’s Service Awards honors individuals, families and organizations that exemplify outstanding dedication to volunteerism and community service in West Virginia. Monroe County Health Department Community Emergency Response Team received its award in the Disaster Services category.
Monroe County is a rural community with no four-lane roads, no hospitals, and limited cell-phone and internet service. There are about 50 professional responders who serve over 474 square miles. Volunteers were needed to cover the gaps and the Monroe County Health Department Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) has done just this.
Its 74 members have received extensive training from CPR to traffic control to Search and Rescue. They developed the Monroe Safety Checks Program that identifies and registers people who are medically dependent on electricity. The volunteers provide registered residents with a 72 hour emergency kit, a land-line telephone and a smoke alarm to help them survive a disaster. During a disaster, members of the Community Emergency Response Team call to check on them to ensure their safety, giving those who register peace of mind as they weather disaster events.
In the past year, the group has contributed 3,000 hours of volunteer service and have become an important and integral part of the community disaster response capability. Recently the team assisted local responders during the brutal 2014 and 2015 winter storms and worked in partnership across county lines to assist during the diesel spill in neighboring Greenbrier County.
The Governor’s Service Awards are administered by Volunteer West Virginia, the state’s Commission for National and Community Service. A volunteer review committee reads and selects the recipients on the basis of achievement, community needs, continuing involvement, innovation and impact of service.