The Places You’ll Go…

Welcome intrepid BOCH CERT fans! Boy Howdy have we been busy this spring and if you haven’t seen us around the Lower Cape, it’s probably because we were busy gearing, training, and getting ready to serve our communities even better than last year!

This February 20 CERT volunteers were sponsored by the towns of Chatham and Harwich to receive CPR training and certification. Volunteers were selected by participation hours to go to this special training and learn about basic first aid, stop the bleed, triage, Narcan training, CPR, and use of an Automated External Defibrillator (AED). These volunteers will now be certified for two years and add to the already CPR certified members on the team. It is leadership’s goal to have a majority of the volunteers at BOCH CERT CPR certified and able to support our first responders. A hardy THANK YOU to Harwich and Chatham for the opportunity to train and serve.

Then we ran off and gave out hundreds and hundreds of COVID Test Kits to the people of Chatham, Brewster, and Orleans…plus our weekly COVID Test Site working with the Medical Reserve Corps located in the Brewster DPW where we’ve tested thousands of people since it’s start. Whew!

Not to brag or anything, but we’ve got some of the best volunteers on the Cape here at BOCH CERT. This February we honored several of them for their amazing dedication to coming out and helping our communities. For their efforts, the volunteers who put in the most time received toasty warm BOCH CERT Parkas and if this was their second year, silver stars! Shout out to Jane S, who turned out to more volunteer events, more trainings, more meetings than anyone else. She’s a shining star!

Last month some of our team headed off cape to the First Annual MEMA CERT Rodeo to meet and greet with other CERT teams in the state, get some training, check out the cool gear and equipment, and learn about funding. As BOCH CERT grows and helps out in our community, the communities we serve find us more and more ways to volunteer. We are only coming on 3 years since our founding and the fact that our Regional Council still reaches out to us for new opportunities goes to show how vital we are and how great the need was, even without the pandemic.

Oh then we did some Incident Command Training, Radio Training, we got some updated gear, and we were in a parade! Thanks to the town of Brewster for throwing the Brewster in Bloom parade this year honoring our hometown heroes (that’s us!) we had a great time both helping block off streets and participating in the parade! It’s not all about the work and training for us at BOCH CERT and that’s why we calendar events where we support community outside our emergency response purview. We call that our CERT CARES events and most of the one’s we participate in have been membership suggestions. Check out our CERT TRUCK thanks to Robert S and the parade crew!

Coming up in the Summer months we continue to staff the Tuesday Testing Clinic in Orleans, Brewster and Chatham town meetings, a live search and rescue training, the first leadership lecture, Mental Health First Aid class, and anywhere our communities need us to be. Thanks to Brewster, Orleans, Chatham, and Harwich along with our Regional Council and partners, especially MRC, for allowing us to serve the people and places we all love so much.


We have been BUSY!!!

Happy Autumn to you all!

BOCH CERT has been as busy as we’ve ever been in the month of October! Brewster, Chatham, and Harwich all are holding flu shot clinics this month, so if you’re looking for an easy way to stay healthy this winter, check your local towns for their clinic dates and come out and say “Hi!” to our crews expertly navigating you through the process.

We’ve also had town meetings! Pumpkin displays built! Trainings! Not to mention the 19 new members we’ve onboarded during our Fall Member Recruitment drive. We are growing in size and skill as well as growing into the communities we serve and uncovering new ways in which to help out. I have had more than one local drive past me and yell “CERT?!?! You guys are everywhere!” and they’re right. We are!

So let’s get to the round-up! A few weeks back we participated in Chatham’s Pumpkin People in The Park. Several members of the team came together for a few days and built an amazing display entitled “Safe Ghost Crossing” adorned with Pumpkin CERT members, busy ghosts, witches, and even an invisible man! Everything we used was upcycled, recycled, or re-useable except the pumpkins and our decorative signs and our display will be up in the park until October 30th, so go take a peek and enjoy the fall leaves.

Thanks to Brewster, Harwich, and Chatham for inviting us in to help with their town flu clinics! We’ve seen nearly 300 of our Lower Cape neighbors drive past us during these events and we’re always so happy when you all give us the ‘thumbs up’ and ‘hi-fives’ as we point you in the right direction. Volunteering is all about the paycheck, and we get paid in the smiles of the people we help. So keep that coming!

BOCH CERT has also facilitated several town meetings this month, guiding the residents of the Lower Cape to their seats, cleaning microphones for Covid safety, and generally supporting the direct democracy enthusiasm of our neighbors and friends. One of the best things about volunteering for CERT is the opportunity to meet people from all over the four towns and be informed about what is happening. To know the Lower Cape towns is to truly love them, and at BOCH CERT we really do love this place we call home.

BIG BIG Shout out to Harwich Police Department and especially Officer Mark Holmes who came out on Wednesday to teach about 25 CERT members about the science and art of traffic flow and safety. Our group had dozens of questions and comments for Officer Holmes and he had an answer for every one of them! Most importantly we learned how to make ourselves visible to drivers, using the big arm waves to get everyone moving in the right direction, never putting our back to moving traffic, and always looking around for potential hazards. We also learned the most important fact about traffic safety: Human Error. A vast majority of crashes happen because of driver’s errors, not road conditions or bad engineering, so to be safe everyone in the community needs to pay attention and make good driving decisions. We hope you all consider that when you enter our parking lots and see us directing traffic.

Coming up, more flu clinics, more town meetings, and October 30th’s NEW MEMBER TRAINING DAY, where we gather up all our new recruits and put them through the paces to get them trained and certified as a full fledged member. There’s still time to join BOCH CERT! Submit your application online from our JOIN US tab and let us get you up to speed so you can participate on Oct. 30th! If you’re on the fence, now is the time to jump off and get on board!

Next month we have Point of Distribution training, a training on some new technological gear we picked up, Safety Officer training certification, and anything else Brewster, Orleans, Chatham, and Harwich needs us to do for them! Have an excellent rest of October and see you in the start of November.

BOCH CERT Deploying Throughout the Blizzard

As the Cape was being battered by our most recent storm, BOCH CERT volunteers were out responding to the needs of the communities we serve. As an integral part of the Barnstable County’s Regional Emergency Plan for the Lower Cape, leadership has been preparing for months just to be able to support local towns in weather emergencies just like this weekend. We have trained and continue to train extensively on avenues of support, like manning Personal Care Centers and Shelters, just so we can be of service in times of crisis.

Long before the first flake hit the sandy beaches of Cape Cod, BOCH CERT volunteers were already standing up, signing up for rosters to support all four towns. This group of intrepid volunteers geared up and prepared to deploy before, during, and after the storm, leaving their homes and families behind to help out our neighbors. We don’t always know where we will be needed, so BOCH CERT volunteers prepare to go anywhere, expect challenges, and try to provide solutions. One thing that’s true about Cape Cod folk is we believe community matters because out here, sometimes your neighbors, local first responders, and various volunteers from local organizations may be all the support you have. We are proud to support those ends in Brewster, Orleans, Chatham, and Harwich (as well as Eastham’s Nauset Shelter). Semper Gumby! Always Flexible!

So this is the round up of all our deployments over the January Blizzard. Friday Night, the entire team was invited into a crucial readiness conference call by leadership where rosters were finalized for deployment possibilities in the four towns as well as activation for support at Barnstable Regional Shelter in Eastham. On Saturday Morning at 6am a Pre-Storm team was deployed to Eastham to support AmeriCorp, LCAST/DART, MRC, Eastham Police Department, and operations staff in brining the regional shelter online, ready to accept local residents and their pets in need. Throughout the storm, this volunteer team maintained a safe, warm space with power and food for evacuees coming from Provincetown to Orleans. Four additional members deployed mid-storm in blizzard conditions to support overnight as relief. The following morning, an additional 4 members were mobilized to take over support and eventually help shut down operations as power was returned to the Cape.

But that’s not all, folks! BOCH CERT has such a deep team bench, members were able to support Brewster’s Personal Care Center needs as well as deploying in Chatham, which suffered 90% power outages, all the days and hours needed, through the storm and the aftermath. BOCH CERT teams at Nauset Shelter and Chatham were in constant contact with each other using recently deployed communication technology allowing everyone to plan for evacuees if necessary. Stand-by team members were able to listen in to deployment needs and weather conditions and respond as needed throughout most of the storm.

BOCH CERT has been staffing Personal Care Centers around the Lower Cape this year and working with local town officials, we’ve been able to provide a small respite for community members in need. “Warming Centers” provide power to charge devices, a warm place to sit for a short while, get water and information while still sheltering in their homes for most of the day. Towns often will provide transportation to these facilities for residents who cannot make it on their own. As always, thanks to the team members who dug out and showed up to make a difference!

It’s hard to believe that BOCH CERT is barely in its third year of operation and already such an integral part of the Lower Cape. Through a COVID pandemic, windstorms, and blizzards our team member’s continue to simply show up and be prepared to face big and small challenges just to make a small impact on the lives and well being of our small communities in the Lower Cape.

Thanks to our Regional Council for giving us the space to grow and the opportunities to help. Thanks to Brewster, Orleans, Chatham, Harwich, and also Eastham Police, Fire, DPW, and Town officials who continue to extend patience and grace to our team members as they learn how to manage in new roles and also hold our volunteers in high regard, never leaving an opportunity to praise us go unmentioned. Thanks to Barnstable County Regional Emergency Response Council and the Regional Shelter team for training us and believing in our abilities to get the job done. Finally, a huge shout out to our partner organizations Cape Cod Medical Reserve Corp, DART/LCAST, AmeriCorps of Cape Cod for their help and partnership in getting the job done! Well Done everyone!