For those wanting to become part of the team that puts their hearts into helping support animals during emergencies, the Animal Lifeline Emergency Response Team (ALERT) has opened up their first initial training dates.

ALERT works with emergency officials and personnel to enter evacuation zones to care for animals in need when their owners can’t.

Information officer Daryl Meyers said the Emergency Pet Services 101 training course will take participants through the basics and different volunteer opportunities.

“People can be responders and go out and respond to a disaster,” she added. “They can provide educational opportunities to the public. They can work behind the scenes doing paperwork. There are lots of different roles that volunteers can play.”

The course will also run through ALERT’s history and some of the responses that they’ve worked on, along with how the incident command works with the Emergency Operations Center.

“So after they complete the day, then they are considered trained,” Meyers said. “We do provide other training opportunities after they get their initial training, but then they are ready and available to be called into a response, just really be a full-fledged part of the team.”

Three classes are taking place, in Penticton, Oliver and Kelowna, with a cap of between 12 and 15 people per class.

While offers come flooding in to help out the team as a volunteer during emergencies, Meyers said it’s not an option at that point.

“Everybody wants to help at that time. And we can’t accept volunteers at that time, simply because we don’t have time to do the training, and they’re not trained, and our insurance won’t cover them. So we really encourage people to sign up now.”

As ALERT’s slower period generally starts in the fall and lasts until early spring, it’s the right opportunity to get interested joiners learning the basics.

“We are excited to welcome new volunteers. There are lots of opportunities,” Meyers added. “We need young people so badly.”

“A lot of our work is hands-on, kind of grunt work, so to speak. And it’d be really nice to have young people come out and be able to be able to help with that.”

For those interested in taking the ALERT training course, the class in Penticton will be taking place on Oct. 15, the class in Oliver will be taking place on Oct. 22 and the class in Kelowna will be taking place on Nov. 5, all from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Class registration is $65, which covers course tuition, registration and the ALERT uniform T-shirt. Email [email protected] for the registration form to sign up.

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