OEM, RSVP Offer Emergency Response Volunteer Opportunities

Lance Ziesch
DCCC Media Specialist

Because each year southwest Kansas communities are affected by manmade disasters or severe weather conditions—such as tornadoes, floods and storms—the Ford County Office of Emergency Management (OEM) has launched an ongoing partnership with the Ford County Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) to help grow volunteerism for Ford County’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program.

CERT volunteers receive 20 hours of training, which teaches them how to take care of themselves, family, friends, coworkers and neighbors in the event of a disaster until trained emergency responders can arrive.

These classes, which are presented weekly over the course of a six-week period, are taught by emergency responders and trained CERT graduates from the southwest Kansas area.

“The role of RSVP is to let everyone know about Ford County Emergency Management volunteer opportunities and to help give back to the community,” Rex Beemer, Ford County OEM Director, said.

One specific area RSVP will be partnering with Ford County OEM is to help recruit citizens to volunteer for its area shelter teams.

“The shelter teams are notified in the early part of the day of potential severe weather to see who is available,” Beemer said. “And they are the ones who will open a tornado shelter, when deemed necessary by the weather. At the shelter, they also will provide direction and ensure the shelter is ready for people to show up in the event of a tornado warning.”

For those interested in serving as a CERT volunteer, they may call 620-801-4401 for more information or visit the Ford County Emergency Management office at 1506 W. Comanche St.

“Anyone over the age of 18, who is able to pass a drug test and background check, is eligible for the CERT program,” Beemer said. “If they can meet those criteria, they should come by the office and fill out an application.”

For those interested in serving as a RSVP volunteer, there is only one requirement: Volunteers must be 55 years of age or older.

Anyone wishing to know more about the program may call 620-227-7077 or visit the RSVP office, which is located at 236 San Jose Drive in room 127 of Hennessey Hall.

“RSVP works with Ford County Emergency Management and many community entities to grow community volunteerism to meet the many needs within our community,” said Charlotte Neuschafer, Director of RSVP and the Child and Adult Care Food Program. “RSVP is so blessed to have the sponsorship and support of Dodge City Community College. With enhancing community engagement being one of the college’s goals in its strategic plan, the partnership with RSVP and Ford County Emergency Management help all of the entities involved get closer to that goal.”