Mark Taylor
[email protected]
Persons interested in learning how to respond in the event of a natural disaster will have an opportunity through the County Emergency Response Team (CERT) program.
CERT is a disaster readiness program facilitated through Johnson County Emergency Management that teaches people to help themselves, their families, and their neighborhoods in the event of a natural disaster.
The training participants receive will allow them to sustain their immediate geographic area until help is able to arrive.
“CERT is a community response effort to teach indivuduals how to take care of themselves for the first 72 hours after an incident like the Joplin tornado or an ice storm,” said Delbert Sawyer, southwest Johnson County CERT coordinator.  “Any unplanned disaster that could affect your or your houseold. Even though we are in Johnson County, 72 hours come into play. The first 72 hours is getting government organized.”
CERT training will take place from July 11 to Aug. 22 at Johnson County Fire District No. 1’s New Century station.  The two-hour classes begin at 7 p.m.
There are seven classes and a search-and-rescue finale.
Each participant receives a backpack filled with $60 in equipment, including a helmet, gloves, goggles and tools.
Sawyer said persons can register for the class by calling him at (913) 856-8050 or by simply showing up on the first night of class.  There is no charge for participation.
Participants will learn to secure their homes and neighborhoods for 72 hours in the event of a disaster.
Training is provided by EMTs and firefighters from Johnson County Fire District 1.
Instruction covers basic fire suppression, disaster medical operations, light search and rescue and team organization.
New to the program this year is animal response and preparing disaster support for animals.
Participants also learn what amounts of food and water they should store in their basements to sustain themselves in the event of an emergency.
Sawyer said Gardner has one of three active CERT programs in the county.
Neighboring Olathe’s program is considered one of the best in the state, he said, and Sawyer’s goal is to bring Gardner’s program to the forefront also.
Sawyer said there is no age limit and no physical restrictions as to who may participate.
For more information, call Sawyer at (913) 856-8050.