North Mahaska Graduate To Attend DC Preparedness Council
Oskaloosa, Iowa – Many people in Mahaska County volunteer their time to train for the worst case scenario. Mahaska County Emergency Management Teen CERT Member Austin Witt of New Sharon was recently named to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Youth Preparedness Council (YPC).
Witt will be traveling to Washington, DC in July to discuss ideas and solutions regarding disaster preparedness in Iowa. According to FEMA, five new members were added to the Council this year based on their dedication to public service and making a difference in their community. Witt will be representing FEMA Region VII, which includes Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska.
While at the Preparedness Council, Witt says he hopes to bring ideas, “from a CERT Team standpoint, because I’m not sure they have CERT Teams where all these other people are from.”
“I think this county is very advanced in how we’ve prepared,” says Witt. He hopes to bring that preparedness planning to the council. “To share that with the group, and show how it’s worked here and how it could work everywhere else.”
Witt, who is 18 years old, was attracted to CERT as a way to help his community. There, he learned to help in efforts such as: traffic control, debris cleanup and search and rescue. “Anything that is needing a surplus of volunteers for,” says Witt.
Witt has been an active participant in two search and rescues in the past year.
“This is a tremendous honor, and we are extremely excited to have Austin join the FEMA Youth Preparedness Council and represent Mahaska County Emergency Management,” said Jamey Robinson, Director of Mahaska County Emergency Management Agency. “He has worked with us throughout his high school career and has provided excellent insight on a variety of issues, making him a great asset to our team.”
“Austin is such a dedicated member of the CERT team and is always looking for ways to better the preparedness and response of Mahaska County,” Robinson shared. “I think he will be an excellent addition to the Council, and I am very excited to see what he will do at the national level.”
Robinson said Witt originally started out as a CERT team member and helped with multiple tasks. He was then promoted to Captain, which allowed him to take charge during assignments and lead other members.
Witt will be leaving the New Sharon area and Mahaska County to attend college at the University of Oklahoma, where he initially intended to study meteorology. His recent experience with EMT training has lead him to realize he likes emergency medicine and is leaning towards a major in an emergency response field side of meteorology.
The University of Oklahoma is in Norman, Oklahoma, and that community just recently started a CERT team there. “I am going to be contacting their emergency manager and talking about the CERT program.”
Many of the training programs Witt has completed here for Mahaska County CERT will transfer, giving him a head start in his new location.