NEWPORT CITY – The American Red Cross and Local Emergency Planning Committee will hold a shelter training class at North Country Union High School on Saturday. The class will run from 9 a.m. until about 3 p.m.
North Country Union High School will be this area’s Red Cross designated shelter if a mass casualty event were to occur. The school will also be the area’s mass surge, mass care facility for North Country Hospital.
“The mass surge, mass care facilities are being put together in all corners of the state to accommodate overflow at local hospitals if a major event happens,” said Newport City Police Chief J. Paul Duquette. An example of such an event is a bus crash or ice storm. “Anything that burdens the hospital’s capability.”
Saturday’s training is for individuals the Local Emergency Planning Committee would like to have in place to open a shelter if needed. The group of people will include members of the Community Emergency Response Team and church groups. Town officials from communities that have their own emergency shelters are also encouraged to attend.
“They can come and see what the needs are to have a Red Cross Shelter and get information about how a shelter needs to be conducted, what’s needed, what to look for and the problems of opening a shelter.”
The training is also open to anyone else wishing to volunteer, especially retirees from the medical field.
North Country Union High School is the primary shelter location. It is large and Duquette, through Vermont Homeland Security, obtained an emergency generator. North Country also has a video conferencing system that’s tied into other schools in the district and it has a kitchen.
“It’s a good fit for everybody,” said Duquette. In the past, the ambulance bay in Derby Line has been a shelter. Duquette also thinks Charleston Elementary is one as well. The Jay Fire Department and Jay/Westfield Elementary School is designated as a shelter. Jay Peak Resort also wants to come on board. “There are different shelters, but there are very few certificated shelters.”
The backup plan for North Country is the Newport Municipal Building.
There is no cost to attend the class. Preregistration is encouraged. Interested individuals may call 334-6733.
“What we’re looking for is a core group of people who can be contacted and asked to go to North Country and set up a shelter,” said Duquette
In an emergency, first responders will be dealing with the cause of the crisis.