A member of the Community Emergency Response Team assists an injured woman
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Teen Leader Preps Local CERT For Tornado Safety

January 2016

Iowa CERT Team Members Learn Life-saving Emergency Tips During PrepareAthon! Day Presentation

FEMA Youth Preparedness Council Member Austin WittFEMA Youth Preparedness Council Member Austin Witt

National PrepareAthon! Day is a national day of action to prepare communities, businesses, schools, and families for potential natural and manmade disasters. To give you an idea of how others have taken part, FEMA Youth Preparedness Council Member Austin Witt shared the actions he took as part of America’s PrepareAthon! Here is his story:

Identifying Dangers, Inspiring Action

What do you do when a tornado is imminently threatening your home, or while you’re driving home from work? How can one determine the safest place to be when danger is only a few minutes away? In my rural hometown of Mahaska County, Iowa, people might think there’s no reason to answer these questions because “nothing like that has ever happened before,” but that is so far from the truth.

We’ve had our share of disaster declarations, and because of this, I decided to make a presentation for my local Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) covering the topic of severe weather and more specifically, tornadoes.

In conjunction with National PrepareAthon! Day on April 30, 2015, I presented our team with a technical discussion about the science behind a tornado and safety tips that could be implemented to help keep people safe. Seeing as many members of the CERT team are trained weather spotters, I decided to use real life situations, both outside and within our community, as well as pictures and videos, to identify the dangers within a storm and how these members can relay life-saving information to emergency officials and the National Weather Service when the situation warrants it.

Taking on Simple Activities to Get Prepared

Together we Prepare - Join in!

When planning your own event for America’s PrepareAthon!, you can participate in simple activities like discussing emergency plans with your neighbor, making or updating emergency kits for your loved ones, or conducting an emergency drill at work or home. Anything that helps you and your loved ones to be better prepared is truly beneficial, no matter how simple the task.

Austin is an active member of his county’s CERT program, where he took on leadership roles such as CERT Team Captain and Vice President of the CERT Board of Directors. He also began the process of applying for 501(c)(3) nonprofit status for the CERT program. His experience extends beyond the administrative to real-life response efforts such as his participation in multiple search and rescue missions. Austin has also responded in the wake of severe weather, getting involved with setting up shelters and cleanup efforts. Austin is now in college and serves as a volunteer EMT with New Sharon Fire & Rescue.

Visit the America’s PrepareAthon! website to register your activity or search for activities in your area. You can also follow all the action on Twitter @PrepareAthon, and don’t forget to tag your events with #PrepareAthon.