High demand for Overland Park’s community emergency response team

The Kansas City area has been experiencing intermittent severe weather threats for the past few weeks.

Emergency medical services departments, such as Overland Park’s, remain on standby throughout the night to ensure the safety of individuals.

But they are not the only ones who want to be prepared for real emergencies.

“I believe it’s crucial to remember the ABC’s: airway, excessive bleeding, circulation or shock. These are all essential factors to consider initially and can potentially save a life,” shared Sky, an Overland Park resident.

Sky is participating in the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) course in Overland Park, along with approximately 25 other individuals. The course spans over seven weeks and aims to train participants in emergency response skills.

The training and mock situations in the program are designed to closely replicate real-life scenarios that graduates may encounter at any given time.

Around four years ago, a person had become lost and couldn’t be located. Despite the challenging circumstances, the search efforts persisted throughout the night. Eventually, the police reached out to Vince Sabia, a CERT lead, around 2 p.m. The team swiftly assembled, including individuals with limited search and rescue training. Thanks to the collective effort and coordination facilitated by CERT, they were able to locate the missing person alive. It was undoubtedly a positive outcome to the search.

The city has been running its program for 10 years.

Sabia and other dedicated individuals have remained committed to making a difference and guiding new volunteers in their efforts to contribute.

Sabia expressed that the reason it is worth it for her is simply to be able to provide assistance.

Volunteers who undergo hours and hours of training may not receive financial compensation or official recognition, but they gain the confidence that they can respond to a call for assistance as members of CERT.

“I’ve never been in a situation like this before, but I want to be ready and able to help because I have a family and neighbors,” expressed Andy Robertson, who is currently undergoing training as a CERT member.

With each new wave of graduates, it is undeniable that an additional influx of assistance will be imminent.

“It’s an incredible feeling, one that never becomes routine,” expressed Jared McPhee, EMS coordinator for Overland Park. “With 300 individuals currently on our waiting list, the enthusiasm for our program remains unwavering.”

FEMA takes charge of the CERT program and establishes the curriculum guidelines.

The EMS department in Overland Park conducts training classes for two to four groups of trainees every year.

Residents are trained to assist in various aspects of search and rescue missions conducted by the police. They are educated in crowd management techniques and play a crucial role in reuniting lost children with their families. Additionally, they receive training in assisting the operations center and providing on-ground support during times of disaster.

Trainees complete the program by participating in a simulated disaster scenario. At the end of the training, they have the option to volunteer as an official CERT member.

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MBS Staff
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