A recent conversation around town; is Kanab prepared for a disaster? In this age of extreme and often unexpected natural disasters, how would Kanab react and what SOS services are in place? And, what do we all need to be doing to prepare in advance to save ourselves, our families and pets?

This question has recently come up in social media posts. Over the past few years, we have seen an abnormal increase in the number of disasters across the United States and abroad – hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, floods and fire. Some of these events occur in places that previously felt safe.

Raymond Briener, a local CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) Commander, has been paying close attention to the tragic details of these incidents, and realizes how individuals in our community don’t feel prepared.

What is CERT? The CERT program is an all-risk, all-hazard training program. CERT was created with the understanding that during a disaster, the scope of incidents can overwhelm conventional emergency services. It educates volunteers about disaster preparedness, and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, disaster psychology, medical aid, and even terrorist threats (among other immediate practical skills like flood management, traffic control, etc.)

Many people in Kane County don’t realize we have a CERT program for Kane County. So far, 14 people have officially completed 21 hours of training and are part of the CERT team. Briener may only be a Kanab High School senior, but he has been involved in the program for over five years now. After completing a strenuous 21-hour initial training program, he has stepped into the role of CERT Commander (see: viewonmagazine.com/2017/08/26/why-i-love-kanab-3/.)   

He believes CERT training is important for anyone interested in protecting themselves and their loved ones. Joining the CERT team after taking the course is an option, not a necessity.

The CERT training is available for teens and others up to any age. Briener and his existing team help at local events in the community, and jumped into valuable service during recent flooding around Kanab. Briener and fellow CERT member Cameron Fryer filled over 400 sandbags the last time storms threatened Kanab. As Briener says, “We are always doing the greatest good for the greatest number of people we can.”

Everyone on the CERT team takes their responsibilities and training very seriously. For Briener, despite his youth, this is just the beginning of a career in emergency service of some sort. Recently, he took more training in Search & Rescue and has begun training with a search dog named Scout.

The local CERT program falls under the auspices of the Kane County Sheriff’s Office. Briener is already problem-solving an idea of doing more to be better prepared, and thinks the CERT team should be working more closely with the local police and fire departments. Coordination in the time of disaster is absolutely essential.

Our hard-working local CERT office needs our community support. Briener and Fryer have already paid for their many CERT expenses (uniforms, patches, lamps, emergency lights etc.) out of their own pockets. The list of what they’d like and feel is necessary to perform in their responsibilities exceeds what should be expected from them alone. Kane County is the only county in Utah with a CERT team that does not have its own vehicle; Briener hopes to find even a used vehicle like a Ford truck with an extended cab. They also need medical and fire suppression supplies. Recently they were able to open a new office out at the airport.

To learn more about their activities and make donations, go to the Kane County CERT Facebook page. You can also donate at: https://goo.gl/29gkvi, or Go Fund Me - https://www.gofundme.com/kane-county-cert.