The downbeach communities of Longport, Margate and Ventnor are seeking volunteers for a Community Emergency Response Team, a group of civilians that would assist first responders.

CERT volunteers are organized with the cooperation of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, are educated in disaster preparedness and would be called upon during a disaster.

Longport Mayor Nick Russo said the three communities have joined forces to solicit volunteers. About 25 are needed for the Atlantic County Office of Emergency Management to bring part of the 28-hour training program to the island.

"I'd like to see it developed more given the fact we live on a barrier island," he said. "This is a great opportunity for individuals of average health, regardless of age, to assist their community."

Volunteers would learn basic first aid, fire suppression and other skills, such as traffic control, Russo said.

"Our biggest need here that I see is during an evacuation with temporary shelters," he said. "We need volunteers to help man those shelters."

The training schedule will be announced at a later date, but would take place in 4-hour-long sessions over seven weeks.

Those interested in the program are asked to contact their local emergency management office. Longport's contact is 609-822-2141; Margate is 609-822-1151; and Ventnor is 609-823-7920.

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