Volunteering in a Winter Wonderland

New year! New opportunities for BOCH CERT to help out around the communities. Since our last update, our CERT team has volunteered hundreds of hours at COVID testing clinics, Rapid Test distribution, Town Meetings, and a few community related events.

A majority of BOCH CERTs time has been spent supporting the Orlean’s Covid Testing Site with the Medical Reserve Corps providing testing for anyone in the Lower Cape and points near and far. Every Tuesday like clockwork, our volunteers get up and roll out to Orleans to set up the testing distribution site and then guide people through the process as orderly and safely as possible. We do this in good weather and bad, in snow and rain, and with the community spirit that makes this organization one of the best to volunteer with.

In fact, we were so reliable and helpful, BOCH CERT was recognized at the Orleans Fire and Rescue awards ceremony. The team was given a Community Impact Award for excellence highlighting our support for COVID-19 vaccination clinics in Orleans. Well done team! Especially Max, our unofficial Mascot!

The team also participated in Wreathes Across America at the Massachusetts National Cemetery at Bourne (MANCBO) placing wreathes on the gravesites of our fallen heroes. BOCH CERT has been expanding our mission to include volunteering at community events like this and the 9/11 Memorial Service because of the interest of our team members. It is our team that informs us on where we can make a difference or simply participate in ceremonies like this outside our charters with the four towns of the Lower Cape. If you are interested in being a part of this team and making a difference, feel free to join us. We have a convenient online application right here on the website!

As the weather has been kicking up this winter, members of BOCH CERT have been training and deploying at Personal Care Centers in the four towns as needed. Personal Care Centers are temporary shelters available to local residents to come in and power up their devices and have a warm place to stay for a few hours as power is restored around the community. In Brewster, Chatham, and Orleans Personal Care Shelters have run from the morning until late in the evening, providing the needed respite for residents that can manage on their own overnight, but need a little power to keep their communication lines powered up. With the impending storm this weekend, CERT team members are already on alert and waiting for the call. Residents of the Lower Cape can keep an eye on local town’s social media or websites to learn when, if, and where their local personal care centers pop up in case of emergency. Please see our training links for more information on how to prepare for weather emergencies and what to have ready in case of evacuation.

As we roll on into the Spring, new trainings will be coming along. We have been expanding our technology tools this last year and there will be no change in that forward progress. CPR training will be coming up for team members who are not already certified or who need recertification. We have de-escalation training and leadership training to continue with in 2022. We still have a large batch of new Provisional members who need to take their in person practical this spring and grow our team even larger and a few new faces we’ve onboarded over the holiday season! The training committee will be meeting monthly to iron out the training calendar for the rest of the year on February 1st and all members are invited to participate in that process. Email JDanias@boch-cert.org to get involved.

February 3rd we have our Annual Member Meeting where we will be having elections and summary of our work in 2021, as well as some notes for the future from the Steering Committee and Training Committee. All current members are welcome to join us and those interested in volunteering can also sit in at any of our monthly meetings. See CBarker@boch-cert.org, DMiller@boch-cert.org, or JDanias@boch-cert.org for more information. As always our member calendar, hosted right here on BOCH-CERT.com is always updated and available anytime.

Thanks to everyone for pulling together this holiday season and getting the job done! Special thanks to our new members who have come out and volunteered in amazing numbers showing us how important it is to continue to invite the community into our organization and build a bigger, better, Emergency Response Team for our towns.

It’s not over…but we see the finish line.

Hello CERT TEAM and CERT enthusiasts…I hope this blog post finds you safe and hopefully with power. This week’s storm really shook the lower cape and left a wide swath of damage in its wake. I lost power and then lost my generator. Some on the team lost cellular and internet as well, which put us at a pretty big disadvantage when it came to mustering up a team to support our four towns.

However, beyond all the challenges, I have seen Brewster, Orleans, Chatham, and Harwich rise up and power through these difficulties and quickly move to bring normalcy back to our communities. With them, BOCH CERT has been on call and deployed in several new roles over the last few days and our team has attempted to be true to our unofficial motto “Semper Gumby”, always super flexible.

BOCH CERT leadership would like to shout out the emergency management folks of the lower cape, especially including the Brewster, Orleans, Chatham, and Harwich Fire and Police departments who have worked tirelessly to support their towns and in the process provided our team with many different roles to grow into and help out. People often forget that BOCH CERT is only a few years old, barely assembled when the COVID pandemic hit and has been growing into the communities of the lower cape. Nothing we do to support our four towns has become ‘old hat’; every deployment for us is a new role to grow into. This week’s challenges were another example of that partnership we have with our regional council to get closer to becoming another reliable tool in their emergency response toolbox.

That being said, let’s go over the round-up of deployments during our ongoing emergency response. Over the last three days CERT team members have deployed to support personal care centers and charging stations for three towns: Chatham, Orleans, and Brewster. Check out our Team at Brewster, keeping up resident’s spirits and providing a warm place to pause and recharge! This is a new role for us and we are looking forward to our tentatively scheduled sheltering training coming up in the near future.

BOCH CERT has also supported Chatham in making wellness calls to check in on vulnerable residents who were effected by the storm and subsequent power/communication outages. We are lucky to have a lot of current, former, and retired first responders on our team who, when called up, can fill positions to free up resources. We also deployed as a team to support Chatham Health Department’s second flu vaccine yesterday, which was well attended despite the challenges. Glad to help keep our local communities healthy this winter.

Prior to the storm, a CERT team deployed to Harwich to help support their COVID testing clinic. In the cold rain and wind, our team was out there moving people safely in and out of the drive-thru testing site. This speaks to the dedication our members have to their volunteer work; BOCH CERT is not just a fair weather friend to our four towns, we show up geared up for any weather. Speaking of which, Corey Barker intends on opening up our gear store for winter to help everyone get and stay warm as we start to deploy in cold temps and even snow. Team members should look out for emails and notices on the website.

As the challenges continue due to the aftermath of this latest storm, BOCH CERT will be out there supporting our towns in big and small ways. We hope our efforts have helped many of you out and we encourage you to take advantage of our personal care sites whenever they are available. For those who are still without power, including our team members, we remind you that your communities are here and have many ways of support. If you want to join our efforts, head over to our Join Us page and fill out our new member application. There may be time to register for our in person annual new member training this year.

Thanks again to our partners and our team members for their efforts. Many hands….little work.