Volunteer programs such as Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), Volunteers In Police Service (VIPS), Police Explorers, and Police Student Interns are rewarding ways to assist the community while gaining valuable experience and essential life skills. All of these volunteers work closely with public safety personnel to promote, support, and enhance safety in our community.
Fire Captain Bill Limneos is the Program Director for the Fairfield CERT program, which was created in 2007. CERT educates citizens about disaster preparedness for hazards that may impact the Fairfield area, and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations. Upon completion of classroom and simulation-based education, CERT members are prepared to assist others in their neighborhoods or workplaces without delay, following an event when professional emergency responders may not be immediately at the scene. CERT members work with first responders. Limneos said it's important for regular citizens to learn these vital skills in the event of a natural disaster. "We want to bridge the gap from the Fire Department to the community," he said.
Working closely with Captain Limneos is the very capable CERT Volunteer Coordinator Teresa Hamner. Teresa retired from thirty-three years in the Air Force as a chaplain assistant at the Reserve Command Level and retired as a chief. She believes strongly in public service, especially in the area of public safety, so when Fire Chief Vince Webster approached her to volunteer with the Fairfield CERT program, she felt it was a perfect fit. Teresa said, "I love taking care of people; it's in my blood and where I excel." Teresa's military and life experiences allow her to utilize her skills while she continues to challenge herself. Teresa advertises, recruits, and handles all of the paperwork, including reviewing applications and scheduling trainings. She spends at least ten hours per week on the CERT program.
CERT training is available to anyone over age 18 who lives or works in the Fairfield area and has no felony convictions or no misdemeanor convictions within one year of application. CERT holds basic training twice per year--at Travis AFB and Fairfield--where participants complete thirty hours of training in a three-week period. Currently, there are seventy-five trained CERT members in Fairfield; half of those continue to take additional classes and specialized training. The next CERT academy starts November 6.
In addition to CERT, the City of Fairfield's Police Department has the VIPS program, which was started in 2010. The first VIPS Academy was held in the spring of 2010, and the fourth Academy is starting October 25, 2012. The five-week course encompasses report writing, radio protocol, graffiti removal, writing citations, verbal judo, directing traffic, police-related clerical training and several other topics. VIPS volunteer to support and supplement police services such as traffic control, event security, fingerprinting children, and report completion.
VIPS applicants must be age 18 or older; have a valid California driver's license or I.D. card; complete the volunteer application; pass the required background check; attend the VIPS Academy and be available to volunteer at least four hours per week. Asia Rothstein, VIPS manager states, "VIPS are an excellent supplement to police officers and civilian personnel by allowing them to concentrate on their primary duties. They have assisted with over forty programs and eight call-outs. The VIPS are a real treasure of the Fairfield Police Department." There are currently 33 active VIPS members.
City of Fairfield VIPS applications can be obtained in the Police Department or can be completed online. Applicants can return a completed application in person at the Police Department Lobby, or via fax, email, or post mail.
There are two additional opportunities for volunteering in the Fairfield Police Department--the Police Explorer Program and the Police Student Internship Program. If you are 14 to 19 years of age and wish to pursue a law enforcement career, the Police Explorer Program will provide both police-related education and experience. If you are attending college and are focusing on a law enforcement education and career, you can earn college credits through a Police Student Internship at the Fairfield Police Department.
For more information regarding the Police programs, please contact Asia Rothstein or call 707.428.7030. For more information or to obtain a CERT application, email FCERT@fairfield.ca.gov or call 707.428.7377.