Charlotte Mai sets up a cot for Jesse Eret Sunday at the Bellevue Fire Department training site. The event had around 20 volunteers learn how to set up a shelter in case of emergency across Douglas, Sarpy and Washington counties.

The Medical Reserve Corps and Community Emergency Response Team were given the chance to train Sunday for emergency situations at the Bellevue Fire Department training site.

Part of a free volunteer conference with Nebraska Emergency Management Agency and Tri-County Citizen Corps, MRC and CERT trained for three hours Sunday on setting up and supporting an emergency shelter.

Lynn Marshall, director of Sarpy County Emergency Management, said the functional exercise with the volunteers was inspired by the March 2019 flooding.

“During the 2019 floods, we were challenged for resources and having enough folks to support shelter operations,” he said. “We’re trying to expand our operations by training additional folks that could help and assist in either opening a shelter or support the opening of a shelter and the rotation schedules.

“It’s very hard for us to be able to do all the work in emergency management that needs to be done, so we count on our volunteers to augment the operations.”

The group practiced setting up shelters by learning how to set up cots and tents while also learning how to manage them for long periods of time.

There are five Citizen Corps in Sarpy County: CERT, the Fire Corps, Neighborhood Watch, MRC and Volunteers in Police Service.

With this being the first exercise in “some time,” Marshall said the groups are trying to introduce more events and also finding more members to participate.

“With a lack of resources, we’re trying to build that capacity with our volunteers and we’re always recruiting and trying to retain those we have recruited and trained and to get them and keep them involved in some of the things,” he said.

“We hope to continue to see it grow.”

For more information or to learn about volunteering with any five Sarpy County Citizen Corps programs, visit apps.sarpy.com/citizencorps/index.htm.

To learn more about CERT, contact Carol Clausen at 531-203-6710. For more information on MRC, email easternnebraskawesterniowamrc@gmail.com.

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