Winnebago County looks to complete C.A.R.T. certification

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OSHKOSH, Wis. (WBAY) - More than one hundred people from public and private entities in Winnebago County spent the day Thursday working on a missing child case in Oshkosh. The scenario was only a simulation, but it's the final step in Winnebago County's journey to have a certified Child Abduction Response Team.

A search of the EAA grounds for a missing child was all part of Winnebago County's C.A.R.T. certification training exercise. The county's desire to start a Child Abduction Response Team began about six years ago.

"We know through our training that when a child abduction occurs time is of the essence," Winnebago County Sheriff's Captain Dave Mack said. "Having a pre-planned response to these types of incidents is what we're trying to accomplish here."

While there is no missing child, the work of the searchers, along with the dozens of other people participating in the simulation, is basically the final exam Winnebago County needs to pass for its national C.A.R.T. certification.

"What we're looking for is to make sure that if a child were abducted in Winnebago County that the community could activate a quick and timely response in order to ensure that the child is safely recovered," says Joell Schigur, one of the evaluators observing the exercise.

While county officials thankfully acknowledge children don't often go missing in Winnebago County, if and when it does happen, having CART ready to go is essential.

Winnebago County Sheriff John Matz adds, "It gets resources to where they need to be much quicker than we would have in the past and with that organization that we didn't have in the past."

Having thoughtful and vetted plans in place for these types of incidents, means the CART members can hit the ground running should a call come in.

"There's people from many, many different venues and disciplines here that all come together at once, so you're not kind of behind the 8 ball when something happens," says Fox Crossing Fire Department Assistant Chief, Todd Sweeney.

Sheriff Matz says the county will learn in the next six to nine months if it receives the national C.A.R.T. certification.

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