Welcome to BCERT
The Big Canoe Emergency Response Team is a group of trained volunteers whose purpose is to provide support to sister units in the Big Canoe Volunteer Fire Department, Big Canoe Public Safety, and responding external emergency personnel . This support includes, first, providing intersection directional assistance to responding emergency personnel, second, rehabilitation support for emergency personnel, third, assistance with administrative functions within BCVFD and lastly, providing assistance with non-emergency traffic control within Big Canoe as requested by Big Canoe Public Safety.
To contact BCERT, send e-mail to Marsha Rhodus, or call her at 706-268-1559.
From1999 through 2000 three Big Canoe homes located in three distinct areas were destroyed by fire. The homes were located in the Chestnut Knoll condominium area, on Quail Cove and on Falcon Heights. Each location had its own set of challenges during the fire. A resident of Big Canoe, Jean Ann Miller, watched as many of the firefighters responding to the fire took wrong turns and went down incorrect streets in trying to find the fire location. Her thought was, “There must be a way we could help firefighters find their way to a fire.” Several other residents shared similar thoughts.
Some people, while observing fire engines crossing the dam and elsewhere, turned on radio scanners. They heard the firefighters requesting snacks and liquids. The people responded to that need and filled it.
During this same time period, the POA Security and Safety Committee, headed by Jim McKinney, was wrestling with concerns about Big Canoe’s medical and fire safety. The committee had several discussions about forming of an emergency response support group.
That group was formed in September, 2000. Volunteers provided beverages and refreshments to the firefighters during fire callouts. Volunteers also assisted at the gates so that Big Canoe Security members could perform emergency services during a fire or other emergency event. The group also set up a structured process for telephoning volunteers during events. Eventually hand-held radios were introduced for communications.
Jack Gayer, JeanAnn Miller and Jim McKinney (known as the 3 J’s) started a training program in rehabilitation (providing refreshments to firefighters during a fire), directing firefighters and emergency services traffic to fires, directing normal traffic away from fires, and in performing emergency communications and coordination. The group was trained and operational by the spring of 2001. Thus began the Big Canoe Emergency Response Team, BCERT.
BCERT performs many functions and is a registered Fire Corps organization. The group has three levels of functions and individuals make a decision as to what level they would like to participate. Training is according to the level of participation. The levels are as follows:
- General Membership
- State certified support firefighter or state certified volunteer firefighter
Through December 31, 2009, BCERT did not have a formal home within Big Canoe’s various organizational entities. Effective January 1, 2010, BCERT became a unit of the Big Canoe Volunteer Fire Department (BCVFD, Inc) which is a legal nonprofit corporation of Georgia with a Federal tax exempt status as a 501 (c) (3) organization. The combined organization has four officers and three directors. They are president, vice-president, secretary, and treasurer, a director of volunteer firefighters, a director of BCERT and a director at large.