Citizen Corps

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After the events of September 11, 2001, President Bush asked all Americans to volunteer in the service of their country through Citizen Corps. To help channel this volunteer effort in Virginia, then Governor Mark Warner created Virginia Corps, a one stop resource that localizes the national homeland security and preparedness initiative known as Citizen Corps. Virginia’s Citizen Corps help residents make themselves and their communities safer from emergencies and disasters by getting them involved in these preparedness efforts. Citizen Emergency Response Teams (CERT) and Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) were selected as two of the primary programs offered to meet this challenge by harnessing the power of every individual through education, training, and volunteer service.

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Clockwise from top left: Mass Dispensing exercise - Tangier Island, Point of Dispensing Exercise - Onley Medical Center, Sun Health Outreach - Assateague, Point of Dispensing Exercise – Nandua High School

Eastern Shore Community Emergency Response Teams (ES CERT)

CERT began on the Eastern Shore in 2004. CERT members play a key role in manning Accomack’s Point of Distribution sites (PODS) and distributing emergency preparedness public education materials to county citizens and visitors. They participate in local and regional exercises – by exercising their capabilities in the tested task or by role-playing as victims or visitor, etc. CERT also plays a vital role in the Cities Readiness Initiative (CRI), where CERT members are partnered with the Eastern Shore Health District and local law enforcement to distribute prophylactic medication to the entire Eastern Shore within 48 hours during a public health emergency.

CERT members are trained via a 21 hour class offered to Eastern Shore citizens in various locations and at various times. There are currently over 250 CERT members on the Shore. Contact JJ Justis, CERT Coordinator at 757-302-4267 or any CERT member for more information and to get information about the next available class.

When taking a CERT class, you will learn to:

  • Manage utilities and put out small fires
  • Treat the three medical killers (blocked airway, bleeding and shock)
  • Provide basic medical aid and triage
  • Perform light search and rescue operations and safely remove victims
  • Organize yourselves and work together as a trained team
  • Utilize the Incident Command System
  • Collect necessary damage assessment intelligence about your location and surrounding area
  • Coordinate and communicate with first responders when they become available and are able to access the area

For more detailed CERT class information, go to Preparedness and Planning for Citizens & Visitors – CERT & MRC Preparedness Training on this website.

Eastern Shore Medical Reserve Corps (ES MRC)

MRC began on the Eastern Shore in 2004. The MRC has over 200 medical and non-medical professionals who have acted on a desire to volunteer their time and expertise during emergencies. The unit is prepared to provide staffingesmrc at Point of Dispensing clinics during mass immunization/prophylaxis campaigns and at Commodity Distribution sites (Points of Distribution sites – PODS). They assist the Health Department in staffing their seasonal flu clinics. Additionally, they are an integral part of all efforts to increase the health benefits of Shore residents. They are active in a public health preparedness education programs for individuals in schools, churches, and community organizations, instructing them how and when to prepare for a disaster. MRC volunteers participate in county disaster exercises and drills. One of their most popular outreach programs is to provide free sunscreen and heat related health information to beach goers at the Assateague National Wildlife Refuge.

Prospective volunteers can register with the MRC by going to and selecting "online application" for Eastern Shore MRC or contact Ellen Archer, MRC Coordinator at 757-302-4266 for further information or assistance.

For more detailed MRC information, go to Preparedness and Planning for Citizens & Visitors – CERT & MRC Preparedness Training on this website.

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