Searsport Community Emergency Response Team trains to aid first responders

Published: Feb. 18, 2023 at 8:12 PM EST
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SEARSPORT, Maine (WABI) - The town of Searsport is giving citizens with a passion for public service the chance to become emergency service personnel.

“If anything happens, I want to be able to do it,” CERT volunteer Robert Rocconnella said. “I don’t want to be running around like a chicken with my head cut off.”

Searsport’s Community Emergency Response Team makes sure that’s not the case.

It’s the first such team in Maine at the town level, and the effort of EMA director Paul Biddle, a former soldier and law enforcement officer.

“I’ve seen firsthand when things go horribly wrong, and how a community that works together can mitigate some of the things that do go wrong very, very quickly,” Biddle said.

“That’s one of the things we were looking for,” CERT volunteer Nicholas Sevos said. “We did not have that in Rhode Island, that community environment of people caring about each other.”

That common belief has brought together a team of half a dozen residents with different skills.

“I have the military background, and then Rob, he’s really into radios,” Sevos said. So, he’s going to be doing training on radios. Seeing that everybody is a wealth of knowledge if you give them the opportunity, it’s a really fun experience.”

“The chance to help somebody in any way, who knows, you might save a life,” Rocconella said. “In the event that something like that comes up where I can actually help, that’s the main thing - helping.”

“If I can maybe lessen the blow, or cry with them or hold a hand with them, or give them encouragement that they need - it’s still needed,” CERT volunteer Julie Sevos said.

From warming centers to directing traffic, first aid and the unthinkable, the CERT Corps is made of team members who run toward the crisis.

“If there ever is, God forbid, a shooting or situation, we’re not going to be idly on the sidelines,” Nicholas Sevos said. “I’m going to be going in and helping those kids. That’s my instinct as a father. You want to be able to take care of your kids, and I now get to be a part of that.”

“The people that have joined are an extraordinary bunch of people,” Biddle said. “I’m very proud for them.”

You can apply to join CERT or learn more by clicking here.