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Published March 17th, 2021
Lamorinda CERT steps up to help stop pandemic
Lamoirnda CERT Registrar Julie Luckenbach hands information to someone who just received a COVID-19 vaccination at the Hercules vaccination site. Photo Sora O'Doherty

Not limited to helping in disasters within Lamorinda, volunteers from Lamorinda CERT, the Citizens' Emergency Response Team, have been stepping up to help run a vaccination clinic in Hercules. The drive-through clinic, located at the Valley Bible Church in Hercules, started out administering 500 vaccinations per day, according to Lamorinda CERT Registrar Julie Luckenbach, but quickly discovered that they could do more, and the rate rose to 1,000 per day.
The well-organized operation, hosted by the fire service, is one of three being held in west county (Hercules), east county (Brentwood) and south county (San Ramon) covering the entire county fire district. The sites are being staffed by a wide variety of fire and Sheriff's personnel, as well as volunteer groups such as CERT, County Search and Rescue and the Medical Reserve Corps. According to ConFire Public Information Officer Steve Hill, fire department staff are volunteering to serve on their own time but are being paid overtime for their service. Lamorinda CERT provided volunteers for well over half the shifts in Hercules, along with other volunteers from Richmond, El Cerrito/Kensington, Martinez, Hercules and Walnut Creek.
People with appointments drive up to the site and are directed to vaccination tents. After receiving their vaccinations, they are then directed to one of two waiting areas. The largest area is for people with no history of adverse reactions who need to wait 15 minutes to check for any complications. A smaller area was set aside for those who need to wait 30 minutes before leaving because they had a greater chance of experiencing a reaction. CERT volunteers direct drivers to the correct area and hand out printed information including a list of common side effects, and how to register with CDC for the V-safe program which sends vaccine recipients texts to check how they are feeling and reminds them to get their second shot.
In the event of an adverse reaction, CERT personnel are instructed to phone 911. Although she has not seen any adverse reactions, Luckenbach said that they have seen some cases of anxiety and have heard of a wide variety of reactions from recipients.
Luckenbach has been working at the clinic each week. "Having all these people work together is so amazing," she said, "because we're getting practice for an unplanned emergency." She explained that by working with other emergency personnel, "you get to know them, and in a disaster, you'll know how to work with them." Luckenbach is not a stranger to emergencies, however, having been awoken in the past to deal with the problem of feeding firefighters in the middle of the night during the 2019 Sander's Ranch fire in Moraga.
Lamorinda CERT Public Information Officer Virginia Merrifield added that although Lamorinda CERT is not currently conducting in-person classes due to the COVID pandemic, they plan to resume classes as soon as it is safe and have been working on a new, revised curriculum. "In the meantime," she said, "we encourage all Lamorinda residents to visit our website at https://lamorindacert.org as a resource for emergency preparation and fire safety updates, as well as attend our virtual monthly meetings. These meetings cover a variety of safety topics delivered by experts. If interested in attending, please contact the registrar at registrar@lamorindacert.org. You will learn everything from what to pack in your 'go bag' to preparing your home to be more wildfire safe. We think you'll agree these meetings will be time well spent."
Information on the CDC's V-Safe after vaccination health checker can be found at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/safety/vsafe.html

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