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Did you know Overland Park has a community emergency response team? It's in high demand

Community Emergency Response Training
Posted at 9:45 PM, May 07, 2024

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Severe weather threats have been happening on and off throughout the Kansas City area for the past couple of weeks.

Emergency medical services departments like Overland Park's are on standby often times throughout the night to make sure people are safe.

However, they aren't alone in wanting to be prepared for real emergencies.

"I personally knowing the ABC's: airway, excessive bleeding, circulation or shock — those are all really important things to keep in mind first and can save a life," said Sky, a resident of Overland Park.

Sky is one of around 25 people in Overland Park's seven-week Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) course.

Graduates of the program can say the training and mock situations could actually happen at any given time.

"Maybe about four years ago, [someone] had gotten lost... couldn’t find her and looked all night," said Vince Sabia, a CERT lead. "They [police] called us at about 2 p.m. in 98 degrees. We came together as a team, some of us with a little training from search and rescue. Through CERT, we got together, and we found her. She was alive, and it was a good ending."

The city's program has been running for 10 years.

People like Sabia have stuck around to stay involved and lead new volunteers through what it looks like to help.

"What makes it worth it? Just to be able to help," Sabia said.

CERT training
Hands-on medical training with EMS and Overland Park's community emergency response team.

Hours and hours of training doesn’t put volunteers on someone’s payroll or give them a badge of honor, but they leave knowing if they become a part of CERT, they can answer a call for help.

"I haven’t been in a situation like this, but I want to be prepared and I want to be useful because I have a family and I have neighbors," said Andy Robertson, a CERT member in training.

There's no doubt that after another round of graduates come through, more help will be on the way.

"It’s a great feeling and one you don’t get used to," said Jared McPhee, EMS coordinator for Overland Park. "We have 300 people on the waiting list and the interest never wanes."

The CERT program is spearheaded by FEMA, which sets the guidelines for the curriculum.

Overland Park's EMS department teaches two to four classes of trainees each year throughout the program.

Residents learn how to help in search and rescue missions for police, crowd management, reuniting lost children, assisting in their operations center and being on the ground in a disaster.

Trainees end the program by going through a mock disaster situation and they can choose whether they'd like to volunteer as an official CERT member.