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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Whole Community Participation: CERT Teams in Action from March 2011.

CERT in Action!

Greenbelt CERT Joins Eastern Shore Search-and-Rescue Mission

On March 5th, 2011, 14 CERT members representing several Maryland CERTs assisted in a search for the remains of a missing person. The Delmarva Search and Rescue Group asked for CERT volunteers to join them in assisting the Maryland State Police in the search.

The police instructed CERT members to look for the remains of an elderly man with dementia who had left his farm house in 2006 armed with a pistol and had not been seen since. The police divided the woods near the man's home into four 70-acre sectors for the search and asked CERT members to look for skeletal remains, hairs, pieces of clothing, a metal leg brace, the gun, a belt buckle, or anything unusual.

The CERT worked with other groups in a carefully structured search line. They were issued metal detectors and also worked with officers with search dogs, being careful to always stay behind and downwind of the dogs. With such a large search operation, the high-visibility CERT vests proved especially useful, said Don Comis, a Greenbelt, Maryland CERT member who was part of the search team. "We needed high-visibility clothes to keep an eye on each other in the woods," noted Comis.

The search occurred in the woods bordering a corn farm in Princess Anne, Maryland, a 2.5-hour drive for most of the CERT volunteers. What motivated so many CERT members to show up for an all-day operation so far away on a Saturday? "For me, I guess it was the excitement of getting to do an actual search operation," said Comis, who in the past had also performed traffic control duties as part of his CERT activities.

Although the group was ultimately not able to locate the man's remains, the operation was a good opportunity for CERT members to practice skills and to highlight the vital role that CERT can play in assisting law enforcement and emergency personnel. Chief Jim Jackson of Delmarva Search and Rescue noted that "We had nothing but compliments on how well CERT did and the role they played in the mission. What I saw was a good indication that CERT is serious about the mission and roles they can play in that mission."

For more information, contact Ken Silberman, Greenbelt, Maryland CERT coordinator 

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