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RivCo Fire Wants Volunteers For Disaster Training

The county Office of Emergency Services will hold a recruitment drive Saturday at the county animal shelter on Van Buren Boulevard in Riverside.

The Riverside County Fire/Cal Fire Department is looking for volunteers for its Office of Emergency Services Disaster Corps.

To this end, the OES will hold a recruitment drive from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Western Riverside County/City Animal Shelter, 6851 Van Buren Blvd. in Riverside, Conference Rooms A and B.

Those selected -- 206 out of a desired 300 volunteers are already on board -- will receive training on CPR, the proper use of automatic defibrillators, mass care feeding and shelter operations, county emergency services officials said.

They will also be trained to respond to hazardous materials situations and receive education in other fields important to the handling of any disaster or emergency, according to Mark Bassett, county fire emergency services program supervisor.

Those who volunteer their services will not be limited to helping out in Riverside County, Bassett told Patch.

Volunteers could be asked to respond to situations in other counties throughout the state as needed.

The training program -- the county is looking for 194 more good candidates -- is the first of its kind in the county, Bassett told Patch.

"This is our first time doing this," he said. "We have some grant money, through the federal government and through the state of California, Bassett told Patch.

The training program is funded through the current and following fiscal years -- $231,000 for this year and $125,000 for next year, according to Bassett.

After that, OES officials hope to apply and qualify for more funding.

"Government can't do it all," Bassett told Patch.

Among disasters for which volunteers in this county would be trained are wildland fires, flooding and earthquakes, said Bassett.

"We want people that are energetic and want to make a difference in our community," said Bassett, who added that not everyone has to train in every aspect of disaster response.

Training events will be scheduled in such a way that volunteers can decide which aspects they wish to learn, Bassett said.

However, all volunteers must be over 21.

Riverside is one of five counties of the 58 statewide selected for the training funding: the others are Los Angeles; San Diego; San Bernardino and San Francisco.

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