Oregon City's terrain, proximity to woods make it susceptible -

Oregon City residents are rallying fellow citizens to join their local Community Emergency Response Team by gaining training to become part of a plan to assist their community when needed.

Photo Credit: DESIGN BY: JOSH SCHWARTZ - A new logo is helping rally Oregon City residents behind their local Community Emergency Response Team.Oregon City graphic designer Josh Schwartz volunteered his skills for a new logo showing a hard hat, flashlight and the Municipal Elevator.

Clackamas Fire spokesman Brandon Paxton said that professional emergency responders will be taxed in any major emergency, so firefighters and other public-safety officers will rely on the efforts of local volunteers during a flood or other disaster. By promoting a partnership with emergency services, trained community members can help increase the level of safety for those who will step forward to assist their neighborhood and community after a disaster.

Body-shop owner Craig Alleman remembers how community members and "friends of friends" helped the Bump Parlor move everything that wasn't bolted down to higher ground during the 1996 flood.

"Everyone knows that we flood every 30 years or so down here," Alleman said. "Through friends and community, everyone can work together."

Clackamas Fire District No. 1 Emergency Manager Gregg Ramirez said there's been an active CERT team in Oregon City for a long time, but when a coordinator had to bow out due to family issues, the OC team had to rebuild. Volunteers will do everything from helping fill sandbags during a disaster to training members of the community how to fill their own sandbags and take other precautionary measures before a disaster strikes.

"CERT is not only reactionary, we also try to be pro-active in getting the word out," Ramirez said. "I've got a couple of good organizers right now, and we're aiming to revitalize the team so that Oregon City will have some local CERT events by the end of the year."

Ramirez argued it's especially important for Oregon City to have its own CERT team.

"Oregon City has a propensity for flooding, a proximity to many wooded areas susceptible to wildfire and hilly areas in many places, so having a well-trained populace would help mitigate the potential damage during a disaster," he said.

You can help

CERT training, taught by FEMA-certified leaders and subject specialists, is available for all citizens who are interested in disaster and emergency preparedness. Physical agility for lifting, carrying, standing or walking for long periods is necessary.

Oregon City residents are especially encouraged to attend a 25-hour course on three Saturdays (Aug. 2, 9 and 16) that includes both classroom and hands-on practical application of the FEMA training materials and is held both indoors and out regardless of weather conditions from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Clackamas Fire District Station 4, 6600 S.E. Lake Road.

To register, email Ramirez at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

You should bring your own water bottle and lunch, dress in long sleeves, long pants and layers. Bring leather work gloves, a hard hat and goggles, if you have them, and wear hard-toed shoes.

The basic CERT course covers disaster triage; first aid; fire prevention; hazardous-materials identification and policy; search and rescue; CERT organization and operations; terrorism; and disaster psychology.

The training consists of classroom instruction, videos and practical application of course materials, including putting out a small fire, search and rescue operations, medical operations, and safe victim extraction exercises.

Keeping the momentum going

Oregon City's revitalized CERT team includes someone overseeing the creation and maintenance of a database of graduates and those interested in receiving preparedness infomation. An event coordinator is organizing and promoting free monthly meetings for graduates and anyone else interested in presentations and continuing educational offerings related to emergencies and preparedness.

Additional volunteers are helping Clackamas Fire spread the word about CERT and preparedness via public presentations and tabling at community events; yet others are making phone calls and helping with community outreach.

OC CERT is looking for more tabling and presentation volunteers, along with local businesses interested in helping them customize gear with the new logo. An engagement coordinator is needed to follow up with recruits to be sure all are welcomed and answer questions, while a mentor coordinator is needed to encourage folks who have not yet taken the CERT course, provide support and act as resource contact to those interested in gathering preparedness supplies.

For more information on the local CERT programs, contact Ramirez at 503-754-2902.

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