In Service of the Rowlett

Thursday, 08 May 2014

By Kevin Cummings, Rowlett Lakeshore Times

Waiting and ready, the Rowlett Citizen Corps Council (RCCC) works to assist the city during times of disaster and emergency. Last week, the organization held its annual awards banquet to honor the volunteers who serve their community.
 
The RCCC consists of the Rowlett Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), the Rowlett Fire Corps, the Rowlett Explorers, the Rowlett Volunteers in Police Service (VIPS), the EastTex CERT and the Amateur Radio Emergency Service. In the course of the year, the individual groups contribute nearly 15,000 service hours, which amounts to a more than $300,000 value.
 
Along with supporting public safety employees while they are operating at incidents, the RCCC also works to keep the community informed and prepared for emergency situations through training and distributing preparedness guides.

“I believe that a city without volunteers is a city without a heart,” said Whitney Laning, RCCC president. “We’re a support function for [emergency response teams]; by doing that were able to multiply the effect they have during times of emergency.”

At the organization’s 11th Annual Awards and Recognition Banquet, members of the different RCCC groups were recognized for their service in 2013. Awards were also given to members who have dedicated five and 10 years of volunteer service to the residents of Rowlett. While each of the individual groups that make up the RCCC, the focus of the entire organization is to use the power of volunteer service to keep the community safe.

“It’s a way to give back to the community,” said Scott Hart, winner of the Rowlett CERT Volunteer of the Year Award. “It makes you feel good when you go around and help other people.”

Rowlett CERT has a volunteer force of more than 100 members who are prepared to help during times of disaster. Most notably, the group helped mitigate some of the damage caused by the ice storm that affected North Texas this winter. The group is trained to aid in providing medical attention, light search and rescue operations and help in extinguishing small fires. The Rowlett Explorers are the youth extension of CERT and are trained in FEMA’s Community Emergency Response Team training.

The Rowlett VIPS was established in 2006. The group works to assist the police department by checking on code enforcements, handicapped parking violations and performing house watches while residents are away on vacation.

The Rowlett Fire Corps program began in 2002. The team of about 30 members is divided into four rotating groups able to respond and assist the fire and police departments. While helping to perform light duties, the Rowlett Fire Corps also aids firemen and first responders with supplies while they are on an extended call.

“It’s incredible, the amount of dedication and time they put into making our city better and serving the community,” Laning said. “it’s been a real privilege to watch it progress, develop and grow.”

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