Identical twins serve Newport's community emergency response program

If you think you're seeing double, you are.

At least when it comes to Marilyn Broughton and Evalie DuMars, who are fondly referred to as "the twins" around the Newport Beach Community Emergency Response Team.

The 71-year-old identical twins have made becoming CERT volunteers their calling.

"It all started with a postcard that came in the mail," Broughton said. "My husband died and I was sort of floating about wondering what I was going to do. I felt it was something important and worthy of my time, also rewarding and a fun way to meet people."

Broughton proposed the idea to her sister DuMars, who also is widowed and lives in the upstairs portion of their duplex in Corona del Mar. They both signed up in 2011.

Both sisters had a medical background as techs at Hoag Hospital — DuMars in echocardiology and Broughton in the pacemaker center. So becoming an emergency preparedness volunteer trained in automated external defibrillators, CPR and first aid seemed natural.

The Newport Beach Fire Department provides a series of annual CERT classes for community members in topics such as disaster psychology, team organization and medical operations, fire suppression, terrorism awareness and light search and rescue.

The twins are responsible for many community outreach events, and they set up CERT classes for volunteers and city employees. They also keep supply sheds throughout the community stocked and teach CPR, first aid and wilderness training on an advanced level beyond the basic CERT classes.

"The twins are the epitome of everything that's right with the CERT program. They average between 1,500 and 2,000 hours' volunteer time each year, which is equivalent to a full-time employee. I need about 50 more like them," Newport Beach CERT coordinator Matt Brisbois said.

Fellow CERT volunteer Sharon Seal said she believes the twins' work ethic sets an example for all volunteers.

"Marilyn and Evalie are the two most hard-working volunteers — they are both humbly dedicated to the CERT program, with countless days of their time spent helping participants and Newport Beach citizens," Seal said.

The twins direct much of the credit for the program to Brisbois.

"CERT is vital to people, and Matt's enthusiasm is contagious," Broughton said. "If not for his dedication and love for CERT and that of the Newport Beach Fire Department and staff who teach our classes, we wouldn't have a program."

"We don't do it for the publicity or notoriety," she added. "We do it because we believe in it."

"We like being part of a green army — separate yet we all follow the same ideals," DuMars said, referring to CERT's green vests.

The sisters were born Jan. 31, 1945, in Denver as part of quadruplets. However, one of the four didn't make it.

The other sister among the remaining triplets, Ardith Chaffee, lives in Tustin and plans to join a CERT program this year.

Broughton and DuMars enjoy spending time outdoors, kayaking and hiking. DuMars, who is interested in birds, insects, plants and geology, also volunteers for the Irvine Ranch Conservancy as a docent in outdoor education.

"Being outdoors is like medicine," DuMars said. "And hiking is better than therapy."

The twins say volunteerism is a way to give back to the community and stay active after retirement.

Having survival skills provides self-confidence and removes the fear of not knowing what to do during an emergency, they say.

"Don't just stand there and scream," DuMars said. "When you see something, do something. Act and follow the three steps that CERT teaches: check, call, care."

For more information about the Newport Beach CERT program, visit bit.ly/2cFJ9gR.

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