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Posted on: April 2, 2020

CERT volunteers are neighbors helping neighbors

Bill and Eleni Miller

Helping neighbors during an emergency and acquiring the training to contribute to a concerted effort. For those reasons, Del Mar residents Bill and Eleni Miller joined the City’s Community Emergency Response Team two years ago.

For the Millers, helping and training both came into play last weekend as they joined other CERT volunteers to ask vulnerable neighbors stuck at home during COVID-19 if they were feeling well or needed anything.

For the most part, the older residents told the Millers they felt fine and that thanks to help from family, friends and neighbors, they were stocked with food, medicine and supplies to get through the stay-at-home order.

What they seemed to appreciate most was the company.

“It was nice to have that human interaction, to hear a friendly voice,” said Eleni Miller, a retired nurse and nutritionist. “A lot of the people we talked to grew up with that – people pulling together to help one another.”

The Millers worked from a list provided by Del Mar Community Connections that identified residents who are older, disabled or at risk of becoming very sick. Over the course of two days, they spoke to about 50 residents – all at a distance of at least six feet and without ever going inside.

The volunteers wore green CERT vests and displayed Disaster Relief Worker identification cards. They asked four survey questions and entered responses directly into an electronic device.

Targeted toward residents who are at heightened risk of complications from COVID-19, the polling was part of a regional data-gathering effort. Volunteers also provided printed materials summarizing the assistance that is available to the public.

Conversations often veered away from the pandemic, Bill Miller said. One woman told the Millers she was 99 and had survived the bombings of London during World War II.

“That one resonated with both of us,” Bill Miller said. “She said her previous experience had prepared her for this and that playing music and baking were good pastimes but she was concerned about not having enough paper towels.”

Among other activities, some CERT members are ham radio operators who get together for a daily chat at 11 a.m. on the Del Mar Repeater, frequency 446.880 with a negative offset and PL tone of 114.8.

Del Mar CERT can always use new volunteers.

Learn more on the Del Mar CERT webpage or by calling Cap Pinney at 858-354-5319.

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