Today is Sunday, August 20, 2017

Volunteers fill the gap

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If your car breaks down while traveling or a tree falls into the roadway, a certified volunteer could be called to the scene.

Lebanon Public Safety, in collaboration with Lebanon Police, can now send a member of their Community Emergency Response Team to assist with non-law enforcement essential calls.

Emergency Services Unit (ESU) Director Mike Justice said that the CERT program has been active for two years thanks to the efforts of CERT Coordinator William Glover, Lt. Chris Melvin and LPD Interim Chief Michael VanHook. "They are there to help with anything from events to motorist assists to directing traffic when there is a line down," Justice explained. "Anything to support LPD and free up their patrol cars."

VanHook said that having CERT members assist officers has already proved to be a "nice benefit to the city."

"When we had the two snow and ice storms, CERT guys were out blocking intersections - and that keeps our guys available for calls," he said. "Usually in a snow and ice storm we have to call in extra help and we didn't have to do that this time. We didn't have to call in any extra guys at all."

VanHook said that having CERT unpaid volunteers deal with non-emergency work also saved the department money. "We would have had to pay overtime for extra officers to come in. I think that this is a good thing. Mike has done a good job with it."

According to Glover, during those storms CERT members logged more than volunteers 400 hours.

Justice said there are currently 20 active CERT members led by Team Leader Shell Gardner.

Each is required to volunteer four hours per month, but most volunteer much more of their time.

"There are different levels to CERT. They do 40-hours of initial training, but can add to that and be able to assist officers and be on the road," he said. "Not everybody is going to ride. We have members who help with events, clerical things or staff the Emergency Coordination Center. They can choose where there want to be."

Volunteers come from a variety of careers - but all have one thing in common - a love of their community.

"They have a heart for community service. Career paths have taken them in different directions, but they all want to serve and have an interest in the public safety field. These people are deep-seated in the community."

Those who are interested in joining the Community Emergency Response Team can contact Coordinator William Glover by telephone 615-257-6001 or email

Staff Writer Sabrina Garrett may be contacted at

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