David Gandesbery, a security coordinator at Norman Regional Health System, is aiming to beat the International Book of Records for his achievement of receiving 245 federal and mental health certifications in 2021.
Gandesbery said he sought out FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) training due to the job he has and wanting to do more for the community. He said he also sought out certifications through the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health due to the large mental health population in the community.
“I wanted to be able to help our mental health consumers, and to better understand them – better understand their needs and their wants, and to be able to serve them better,” Gandesbery said. (story continues below)

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Gandesbery has been working at Norman Regional for 14 years and has a total of 375 certifications under his belt.
Some of the certifications Gandesbery achieved in 2021 include Hospital Emergency Response Training for Mass Casualty Incidents, Response Considerations During an Outbreak or Pandemic, Critical Incident Stress Debriefing, Healthcare Facility Preparedness, Communicating Effectively in an Emergency, Management of a Highly Infectious Disease Patient in a Healthcare Facility, Medical Surge Management, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Behavioral Health for Fire and EMS, and many more. He also completed all of the Disney Institute’s professional development courses.
Some of these trainings were in-person training and some were online training.
“[Gandesbery] has exceeded all of our expectations regarding the amount of certifications he has achieved,” said Shane Cohea, director of safety and security at Norman Regional. “[Gandesbery] utilized his scheduled time, weekends, PTO, and vacation time to achieve this remarkable achievement. In all my years of healthcare leadership, I have never seen professionals complete this many courses in a lifetime. [Gandesbery] completed them in a year. To complete this many Incident Command, FEMA, Center of Domestic Preparedness certifications is something that may go down in history books. This accomplishment defines why [Gandesbery] continues to receive the NRHS Security Officer Healer of the Year. [Gandesbery] has received this great honor in 2013, 2016, and 2021.”
Gandesbery said with COVID, with life, and with him previously losing a child, he needed something to occupy his mind.
“These certifications were a way to save myself,” Gandesbery said. “They were basically therapy. I felt like I was learning something good to save others around me and try to do things better.”
Gandesbery and his wife Cathy previously adopted four sons with special needs. He lost one of his sons, Joey, in 2018.
“He’s my hero,” Gandesbery said. “My son now is my inspiration for everything I do. I want to build my life to where his name means something.
“By having special needs boys who have been told most of their life that they probably won’t be able to do certain things, I strive to show by example that all things are possible. No matter what your situation is, you can chase your dreams.”
Gandesbery is utilizing some of his training at home with his boys and within the community just as he is using his training to better the health system.
“I truly believe that especially in my type of job, if you treat people like they’re human and show them compassion that little by little, you might not change everyone’s life, but you can change at least one or two people’s lives,” Gandesbery said.
Gandesbery has also developed some handouts that feature free training websites for Norman Regional’s other security officers to encourage them to expand their knowledge along with him. He said he also thinks these trainings, especially the Department of Mental Health’s courses and FEMA’s decontamination training courses, would benefit all of Norman Regional’s healers.
Gandesbery is going to present for a spot in the International Book of Records for his certifications soon. The previous record was 240 certifications in a fiscal year.
“You have to continue to grow. You can’t settle. No matter your age or your ability, you are always able to accomplish a goal or dream with hard work and perseverance,” Gandesbery said.