OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — An Overland Park woman at the center of a silver alert is safe. All thanks to volunteers of the city’s Community Emergency Response Team.
It was a frantic search for Mary Beam lasting nearly 30 hours. Kyle Burns, the city’s emergency manager, says they were concerned about her safety.
“We just could not find her at that point,” Burns said. “The message went out to twenty five thousand residents. We waited an hour and did not hear anything from anyone.”
Beam, who is in her 80s, went for a walk during a heat advisory. Burns says police relayed she suffered from dementia and a heart condition.
Dennis Smeltzer is the coordinator of the response team. He says once people were aware of the need they came out as fast as they could.
“We used our mechanisms that we have within the city to let our CERT team know that there was a search and rescue event, and in a very short period of time we had about twenty one people show up in about an hour,” Smeltzer said.
The Community Emergency Response Team, or “CERT”, is made up of volunteers. It’s a free FEMA based program citizens can train for to help their community in emergencies and disasters. The seven week program is broken into about three hour training sessions each.
The team combed the area near 135th & Metcalf. In 30 minutes they were able to locate her alive through a ground search. A volunteer who was a nurse was able to start tending to her immediately.
“She was just so happy that she was able to find her and that she was in the condition that she was in,” Burns said. “It was just an emotional moment that we were able to accomplish this task.”
Beam was in an area of overgrown brush. She was dehydrated and had bug bites, but was OK.
“When they got up there and found out that she was actually breathing, she has a decent pulse, they were just ecstatic they were able to report back to the first responders — we found her, and she’s alive,” Smeltzer said.
If you would like to learn more about how to join the Overland Park CERT you can visit their website here.