At Cathedral City High School, students in the Health and Environmental Health Academy of Learning (HEAL) are taking part in a course that prepares them to be ready and helpful when their community faces disasters. This course is called Community Emergency Response Teams or CERT.
In CERT, students cover seven units:
- Disaster Preparedness: Where students should be able to identify roles and responsibilities for community preparedness, describe types of hazards that can affect a community, and undertake personal and organizational preparedness actions.
- Fire Safety and Utility Controls: Where students learn keys to effective fire suppression, CERT sizeup and fire sizeup considerations, classes of fire, types of fire extinguishers and how to identify hazardous materials.
- Disaster Medical Operations: Students identify three “killers,” apply techniques for opening the airway, controlling bleeding, treating for shock, conducting head-to-toe assessments and establishing treatment areas.
- Light Search and Rescue Operations: Students should know how to perform search and rescue sizeup, the objectives of interior and exterior search and rescue and how to decide whether to attempt rescue.
- CERT Organization: Where students learn how to do Command Post documents and track situation status, how to document and communicate information to all CERT levels and provide Command Post with ongoing information about damage assessment.
- Disaster Psychology: Students learn four emotional phases of a disaster, psychological and physiological symptoms of trauma, and how to be an empathetic listener.
- Terrorism and CERT: Students learn to follow simple guidelines: do not touch, move away from an object or area and report it to authorities immediately.
During this course firefighters came to the school to teach some units and conducted hands-on activities like teaching students how to move a patient with a blanket.
On October 14, HEAL students completed their CERT training and reviewed everything they learned. Students went over four stations that were essential for their final test: lifting and maneuvering victims, triage, fire suppression, and leveraging and cribbing. For the final test, students had to simulate the aftermath of an actual disaster. They would perform triage on victims depending on their injuries and take them to a safe environment where they would get help.
During this course, students learned valuable skills such as leadership and teamwork. They’ve learned how to be ready for any kind of disaster and are ready to help when they can. We will never know when the next big disaster will happen, but at least we have some people in our community who are ready and prepared to help.
Valeria Cabiedes-Vazquez is at junior at Cathedral City High School. For more information on OneFuture programs, contact Kim McNulty at [email protected].