Richmond volunteer recognized for helping city prep for emergencies

Richmond volunteer recognized for helping city prep for emergencies
Diane Richwine (with microphone) recognized at Richmond City Council.

Richmond resident Diane Richwine was honored at the Richmond City Council meeting on Tuesday for her tireless dedication to preparing the city for emergencies.

The City Council recognized Richwine, who is retiring as a volunteer, in part for her “dedication to the Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT).”

The CERT program serves to prepare individuals for the initial response to disaster and also fosters a culture of mutual aid and community support that is valuable during times of crisis, according to Councilmember Soheila Bana, who read a city proclamation honoring Richwine Tuesday.

Councilmember Bana credited Richwine with keeping CERT volunteers connected with the Richmond Fire Department. Richwine was also recognized for conducting the 2023 CERT Academy, which included nine three-hour classes and one four-hour emergency drill.

Those efforts resulted in 20 Richmond residents graduating from the Academy, with no dropouts.

Student evaluations of the classes were overwhelmingly positive, Councilmember Bana said. But more importantly, Richwine revitalized an essential program after a period of closure during the COVID pandemic, which enhanced the emergency readiness of residents and thus contributed to the safety and resilience of the entire city, she added.

Michele Rappaport, a neighbor of Richwine’s, pointed out that Richwine has done radio check ins monthly with people in their neighborhood and anyone else she can reach with them.

“She didn’t stop during COVID,” Rappaport said. “She always did these radio checks. She’s been a wonderful help in terms of emergency preparedness on the ground.”

At Tuesday’s presentation, Richwine said she was “deeply honored” for the recognition. She shared the honor with her team, which includes fellow dedicated volunteers Charmain Tyler, Jeff Miller and her husband David Swanson, as well as Battalion Chief Rico Rincon, “who showed up at every class and supported us in more ways than we can mention.”

She also expressed gratitude for the support of firefighter instructors Drew Alves, Rachel Gomez, Victor Garcia, Frank Marin and Philip Barnabas, citizen volunteer instructor Paul Varner and retired Richmond police Capt. Joey Schlemmer.

Richwine further informed the community about CAPER, which stands for Citizens Advisory Panel on Emergency Readiness and Response, which has been working with the Richmond Office of Emergency Services since the 1990s.

“I would like the council and everyone to remember CAPER and the many many CERT graduates in Richmond who are committed and ready to partner with the fire department and the city after a major incident. To that end, please prioritize and support ongoing CERT training and please support Richmond’s next OES manager, whenever that person is hired.”

Bana said the next OES manager will be hired soon.