Del Mar CERT assists with coronavirus response


Community Emergency Response Team members in Del Mar have been helping to enforce public health orders amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

“We’re doing the kind of peripheral assistance for the fire department,” said Charles Pinney, a Del Mar resident of 41 years and one of the local CERT leaders. “We report directly to the fire department as CERT team members.”

Charles Pinney

CERT members recently conducted a survey of 50 senior citizens and residents who have limited mobility to see what their needs are, and the team is making sure they’re doing alright through the shelter-in-place and social distancing orders.

Del Mar CERT is also making sure all residents are complying with the public health orders designed to slow the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, by monitoring the beaches, parks and other public areas that have been closed.

“During the week, everybody is complying very well with the social distancing and staying at home,” Pinney said. “The streets are pretty bare.”

The CERT team has been relatively limited in numbers due to the fire department’s guidelines, Pinney said. A total of about 10 members in Del Mar, including Pinney, are contributing to the coronavirus reponse. But team members who are over 60 or have underlying conditions such as asthma are prohibited from working in the field. Those restrictions apply to all but three members.

“I’ve got a command post at the house,” said Pinney, a former pilot in the Marine Corps and for American Airlines.

CERT volunteers have to attend a 25 hour training course, free to residents or local employees who are at least 18 years old. Throughout the course, they are trained in how to save lives and property during a major disaster to supplement professional emergency first responders.

“The mission of CERT is to provide the greatest good for the greatest number of people during a mass casualty event,” Pinney said. “That’s our primary mission.”

He’s also trying to find ham radio operators in the city to help be the “eyes and ears” of the city and stay in close contact.

“What we are trying to do is to whip up some interest from local ham radio operators to join our group,” Pinney said. “If they are not CERT members, that’s OK, we just want to be able to communicate during the emergency.”

Pinney also said CERT works with Del Mar Community Connections, a local nonprofit that serves the city’s senior citizens.

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