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Helene Bureau, left, will replace Susan Jutras, right, as the new Goffstown CERT Director. (courtesy)

Emergency response team in Goffstown has new leader

GOFFSTOWN - The Community Emergency Response Team has elected a new director.

Helene Bureau will lead the volunteer organization, replacing Susan Jutras, who was CERT director for the past six years.

Since its inception in 2003, the organization has jumped from six to 70 trained members and will face at least one challenge as it continues to grow, Bureau said in a statement.

"It has seen some growing pains," she said, "and we are seeking to formalize how it functions while maintaining its small group charm."

CERT members are activated in an emergency situation, whether a fire, storm or other disaster, and all members receive training in such areas as first aid, shelter management, working with animals in a disaster and traffic control.

CERT conducted welfare checks after an ice storm left much of the town without power in December 2008 and have been visible at community events such as the annual Pumpkin Weigh-off and Regatta.

For the past four years, CERT has been awarded the President's Volunteer Service Award, which was established by President Barack Obama in 2003 to honor exemplary citizenship through volunteer service.

In the last year, CERT donated roughly 4,000 hours of time serving the Goffstown community.

Bureau said she hopes to increase the visibility of CERT in Goffstown, and get residents to pay more attention to preparing for emergencies.

"The only change I can hope to effect is an even greater involvement in the community and to further expose the community to preparedness information and education," she said.

Jutras said the group is much stronger than when it began.

"We have had the privilege of attending many hours of training offered to us through local, state and national entities such as FEMA and the American Red Cross," she said.

Jutras credits the support of the community for CERT's early success.

"Goffstown CERT would not be what it is today if it were not for the support we have from the town of Goffstown," Jutras said, including Police Chief Patrick Sullivan and former Police Chief Michael French.

"They are our greatest advocates," she said.

Jutras, who will continue to be involved in the Goffstown CERT, said she has many fond memories of her time in leadership.

"It is not just one memory, it is the fact that these volunteers have the willingness to give so much time in a moment's notice," she said. "Goffstown is truly blessed to have so many people willing to volunteer their time."

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