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Citizen Corps volunteers to aid security

April 07, 2003|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

Heeding a call from President Bush, emergency services officials announced Friday morning that Washington County soon will have a corps of volunteers to help increase homeland security and community safety awareness.

The county will receive $2,300 to create a local Citizen Corps Council to manage education, training and volunteer opportunities for area residents, Verna Brown, coordinator of the Washington County Emergency Management Agency, and Clint Pipton of the Maryland Emergency Management Agency said.

Details of how the council will operate still are being worked out.

The Citizen Corps is part of the federal USA Freedom Corps proposed by Bush during his 2002 State of the Union address. In that address, Bush called on citizens to spend at least two years of their lives in public service.

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"I think it will encourage volunteerism," Brown said. "I think it will encourage citizens to take responsibility for themselves and their families."

Six other jurisdictions in Maryland have Citizen Corps groups, according to the national Citizen Corps Web site.

Brown said Washington County's Citizen Corps will be a subcommittee of the Washington County Local Emergency Planning Committee. Its members will be appointed by the Washington County Commissioners.

The local corps probably will direct residents to various organizations for which they can volunteer, Brown said.

"I've always been an advocate of promoting volunteerism," Commissioners Vice President William J. Wivell said. "Government can use all the help it can get."

Citizens also will have the opportunity to take part in the Community Emergency Response - Training, or CER-T program, which will train volunteers in services such as basic first aid and CPR. The CER-T program is designed to relieve emergency providers of less critical tasks.

Pipton said the county will receive $5,000 for that training.

Brown said the county's Emergency Management Agency will look for volunteers for various emergency and community safety organizations after people are appointed to the Citizen Corps Council.

For more information about the national Citizens Corps program, visit www.citizencorps.gov.

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