Bob Hoebermann is prepared to rescue a child from a burning house or pull a victim from beneath a collapsed building. The chairman of Gilbert’s volunteer Community Emergency Response Team, or CERT, is trained and on call to help out in many emergencies: a terrorist attack, a train crash or a fire.
Now, in an effort to attract more community and public safety volunteers to help neighborhoods deal with a serious emergencies, Gilbert is falling in step with other municipalities nationwide and creating a Citizen Corps Council.
“Part of this is designed to train an individual on how to make their home safe and take care of it if something happens,” said Hoebermann, who’s involved in the creation of the new council. “Part is if they want to go to other areas and be more of a community activist, and be prepared should something go wrong.”
On Wednesday, the town is holding a public meeting, where it will gather members of its three main public safety volunteer organizations: CERT; USA on Watch neighborhood watch program; and Volunteers in Police Service, or VIPS, for the first meeting of the new council.
Current and new volunteers are being sought to attend the meeting and serve on the council. The Arizona Citizen Corps and Maricopa County Citizen Corps will offer guidance at the meeting.
The idea of the Citizen Corps Council, which is supported as a part of national homeland security, is to encourage more participation in the volunteer groups. In addition, the council will make it easier for the three groups to communicate during an emergency.
Sheri Gibbons, emergency management coordinator for the Gilbert Fire Department, oversees a variety of programs meant to ensure Gilbert is prepared for emergencies from a terrorist attack to a bird flu pandemic.
“We’re growing, but we don’t want to outgrow what is Gilbert the community,” Gibbons said. “And that’s what this is all about, citizens being involved with our public safety through training, education and volunteer service.”
Residents who want to attend are asked to R.S.V.P. by Tuesday at (480) 503-6193 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you go
What: Gilbert Citizen Corps Council
When: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday
Where: Trilogy at Power Ranch Ballroom, 4369 East Village Parkway