BUCKFIELD — Residents of Buckfield, Hartford and Sumner gathered at the Buckfield Junior-Senior High School cafeteria Friday night for a free meal and information on ways they can help their communities in a disaster.

Eighty-eight people attended the dinner, which was paid for with federal stimulus money.

Keynote speaker Lynette Miller, director of Special Projects for the Maine Emergency Management Agency, described an accident that occurred in a remote area and when the injured person was revived he looked around at all the emergency personnel and asked, “‘Where did all these people come from?'”

“As I look around this room, I can see where they came from. You represent people taking a little piece of your time so you can help others,” Miller said.

Volunteer Fire Chief Steve Campbell said assisting the community gives a good feeling, and he challenged the group to be volunteer firefighters.

Buckfield Rescue Chief Lisa Buck said they have 18 volunteers but need more.

George Jones, a member of the Community Emergency Response Team, asked people to volunteer and then get the proper training so they can help and be safe at the same time. “You need not only to know what to do, but what not to do to be safe,” he said. The team operates the emergency shelter in the high school.

Darlene Thibeau spoke about bringing pets to the shelter and how they have trained volunteers to manage the pets.

Marianne Todd explained that people in Sumner have organized a Neighbors Care program and urged Buckfield and Hartford to start one.

Oxford County Emergency Management Agency Director Scott Parker praised the three towns and their Emergency Management Director Tom Standard. He said EMA always needs willing and trained volunteers to help out.