GEARHART — A Community Emergency Response Team is coming to Gearhart.

Known as CERT, the team is composed of area residents who want to learn how to take care of themselves and others in natural disasters and other emergencies.

So far, 14 people have signed up for training, which begins on July 23, City Administrator Chad Sweet told the Gearhart City Council Wednesday night.

“We are looking for more volunteers,” Sweet said.

A sign-up sheet is available in City Hall. Some people signed up for CERT training after attending a recent “tsunami rally” in Seaside, Sweet said. The rally included new maps showing the inundation zones for “distant” and “local” tsunamis.

Much of Gearhart will be washed over in a tsunami generated by a distant earthquake, and water will surge significantly past U.S. Highway 101 in a tsunami sparked by a local Cascadia earthquake offshore.

Although organization of a CERT group in Gearhart has been discussed for several years, it was at the urging of City Councilor Dan Jesse and Mayor Dianne Widdop that city officials began to investigate how residents could be trained.

Sweet said he and Fire Chief Bill Eddy discussed the possibility with Lianne Thompson, who recently helped to train CERT groups in South Clatsop County.

Sweet said the city could allocate $3,000 toward materials and services – including $50 an hour for Thompson and other trainers – and another $2,000 to purchase equipment.

The nine-week CERT course includes training for disaster preparedness, fire safety, disaster medical operations, first aid and CPR, disaster psychology, incident scene management and other sessions. The training, which will be interrupted for a week or two a few times during the summer, will end in mid-November with an exercise drill.

While the city can provide funding and insurance, and the fire and police departments can offer some guidance, the CERT volunteers will have to run the organization and perform the administrative tasks associated with the organization, Eddy said.

There is no age limit, Sweet said, but CERT members must be “self-reliant and willing to help others.” Jesse pointed out that most CERT members in other parts of the county are retirees.

CERT members also won’t be expected to perform the tasks required of firefighters or police officers, Sweet said.

“They’re not there to do the heavy lifting,” Sweet said. “It’s about preparing your communities, mapping your neighborhood” to find resources that could be used in emergencies and residents who might need assistance.

“This can be something to help you bring your community back together again,” he said.

The city also is planning a “Gearhart Readiness Rally” from 10:30 a.m. to noon Sept. 7 in the fire department. Information will be available about CERT, the tsunami maps and emergency preparations people can make on their own.

Another preparedness event is planned by NW Natural from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sept. 14 at Camp Rilea. Lunch will be provided.

On Oct. 17, Gearhart will participate in the “Great Oregon Shakeout,” a national event where people plan what they would do in an earthquake and practice their evacuation drills.

“It will be a nice time for us to shake out our emergency response,” Sweet said.

In another discussion, Sweet said the city recently started a blog at www.cityofgearhart.wordpress.com

“Gearhart has entered into the blogosphere,” Sweet said.

He said Widdop and others thought it would be a good way for those interested in Gearhart to stay informed on city issues and activities. Started recently, the blog contains information about the CERT training, some history about the town and Gearhart’s tsunami map. So far, it has three followers, according to the website.

Postings might include meeting announcements; updates on construction projects; information about the city’s water system; photos from city events; and even “how to remove skunk smell from a pet,” which Sweet said would be an upcoming topic.

People can make comments via email on the blog that goes to city officials. The comments aren’t posted on the blog.

“It’s not like Facebook,” where everyone can see each other’s comments, Sweet said.

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