The Shelby County Office of Preparedness Reserve Program, under the leadership of Community Emergency Response Team coordinator Eugene Jones, recently honored two of its outstanding members -- Willie Hollinger of Cordova and Alexander "Ham" Hilliard of Bartlett.

Hollinger and Hilliard were applauded for going above and beyond to teach the public about the importance of disaster preparedness and disaster communications.

A reserve since 1995, Hollinger serves as the public education and CERT officer. With more than 25 years of experience, he is known for his kindness, gentle humor, generosity, and depth of public safety knowledge. Hollinger has taught countless number of students how to survive disasters as a certified CERT instructor. He has created several videos of regional and national disasters that are shown during the CERT classes. He also has built many of the life-size props used during the hands-on portion of these classes.

Additionally, Hollinger is a popular public speaker and speaks to schools, clubs, churches, and civic organizations on the topics of fire prevention, control, overhaul, and extinguishing, as well as self-preservation, search and rescue, ventilation, salvage, extrication of victims, building inspection and hazard reduction. In addition to his years with the reserve program, he has served his community as a volunteer fire fighter and a Shelby County Emergency Services volunteer.

When asked why he spends so much time volunteering to teach others how to stay safe, he replied, "Because one of these days, I might just be the person who is in need of help, instead of the rescuer. I want everyone to know what to do."

Hollinger was unanimously voted 2011 Reserve Officer of the Year by his peers.

When not volunteering for the Office of Preparedness, Hollinger and his wife Sue, grow prize-winning roses in their Cordova yard. His "day job" is the facilities director at the Memphis University School.

Hilliard, has for the past 39 years shared his time, talents and extensive knowledge of radios and emergency communications with the public. An active amateur "ham" radio operator -- call sign W4GMM -- is a radio instructor and is a volunteer test examiner.

Hilliard, who's retired from South Central Bell, began his volunteer efforts during the civil defense days. He has, through the years, volunteered for the Shelby County Health Department, the American Red Cross MidSouth Chapter and the United States Air Force Military Affiliate Radio System.

Hilliard has built five ham radio repeaters. Three are still in use and one is on loan to the Reserve Program.

Recently, Hilliard conducted a 10-week ham radio class at the Emergency Operations Center for novices to help them earn a technician license.

Hilliard stated his motive: "I volunteer with the Office of Preparedness Reserves and Air Force MARS because I realize that if the time came, I could best serve my community by helping to provide emergency communications."

Hilliard also gives presentations on disaster preparedness to churches, schools, and civic groups. For his unselfish efforts to teach disaster communications, Hilliard was voted by his fellow Reserves as 2011 Reserve of the Year.

In appreciation for their unselfish efforts to make a difference in their community, both Hollinger and Hilliard received a plaque and congratulations from their fellow Reserves and the staff.

Office of Preparedness Reserves are trained volunteers who assist the agency by educating the public about disaster preparedness as instructors in the CERT program and by giving preparedness presentations throughout the county. They also assist with disaster communications as ham radio operators, and respond to the EOC during disasters or "activations" as needed.

To find out more about the Reserve Program, please contact Eugene Jones, CERT coordinator, at (901) 515-2525.


Source: - Sandra Mathias

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