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Trained volunteers needed across county

Butler County Emergency Management Director Shirley Sandy is trying to protect Butler County, but she said she just cannot do it alone.

Trained volunteers are needed across the county including American Red Cross volunteers, Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) volunteers and Volunteer Fire Department members.

“When I first got here, I approached city officials with the CERT program,” Sandy said. “We want to get teams throughout the county so that our first responders will have help if they need it. They’re not first responders but they just assist first responders.”

Ideally, Sandy would like to see teams spread throughout the county to help in case a disaster hits.

“It’s to know that my citizens are more prepared in this county,” Sandy said. “I know if McKenzie has a disaster, they have some help until we get help to them.”

Any age is accepted into the program and Sandy hopes that once the CERT program is fully established, she can start a teen CERT program.

“If there is a neighborhood or subdivision that has a team and they get locked in, I know that neighborhood can take care of themselves and go house to house and do search and rescue,” Sandy said. “It’s things like that that we try to think about it. We want the citizens safe, but we have to make them aware and educate them.”

As for the American Red Cross, Sandy said it’s vital to start getting citizens trained because the closest person who can help is about 45 minutes away in Andalusia.

“The reason we need Red Cross volunteers is because if we have a house fire and the closest Red Cross volunteer to assist that family is a minimum of 45 minutes away in Andalusia, they might not get any help until the next morning, and we just things to go a little bit faster.”

The Volunteer Fire Association is always looking for more volunteers, Sandy said.

“A lot of the volunteer fire departments are getting up in ages and the younger people are moving away,” she said.

Sandy said she knows that if there was a disaster that hit Butler County, the entire community would come out to help. However, she is just trying to bring everyone together and get organized.

“Basically, I know we have a couple of businesses that will help fire victims, disaster and long-term recovery,” Sandy said. “I know the whole county is going to get out and volunteer if there’s a disaster, but we want to train them and get them organized.”

Sandy has the program ready, but she just needs volunteers to start the training.

“I’m waiting for the people first,” Sandy said. “I’ve got to have the people and we’ll work with their schedules. We can do so much more in this county if we can get the funding, donations and trained volunteers in. We can do a whole lot more. It’s a great county so let’s go for it.”

For those interested in volunteering, contact Shirley at 334-382-7911 or bcema@butlercoal.us.