PALMDALE- Students in Joe Walker Middle School’s Civil Air Patrol (CAP) program have learned disaster preparation skills through the FEMA Teen Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training.
On top of their CAP activities, including aerospace education, leadership training, military drills, and community service, the Joe Walker students participated in over 20 hours of CERT training. Retired Los Angeles County Sheriff Department Deputy Bob Foster led the classes, which covered subjects like disaster preparedness, fire suppression, and triage.
Foster has been teaching the CERT curriculum to adults for 10 years. This was his first Teen CERT class. “When I stepped foot in the classroom I was taken back by their maturity, honor, and respect,” said Foster. “From start to finish they were outstanding. It is a direct reflection of their teaching staff at this school.”
CERT is a nationwide FEMA created program that is taught and administered by local police and fire agencies. The goal of the program is to teach regular citizens how to respond in an emergency to care for themselves, their families, and their neighbors.
Teen CERT, a newer arm of the CERT program, goes further than just classroom lectures and includes hands on exercises on extinguishing fires, triage, and first aid. The students even went above and beyond by getting their first aid and CPR certifications.
CAP director Traci Scott, USAF Lt Col Ret, said, “The CERT training was excellent. We went out on a search and rescue exercise with other schools in the state, and our students were able to teach the other schools how to triage.” Scott added, “They have information that they can pass on and use to help real people.”
The students were awarded their certificates of completion at a promotion ceremony on May 17 by Los Angeles County Sheriff Department Sergeant Andrew Nagel. The students also received their first aid and CPR certification cards at that time.
Ashley Harvey, a parent attending the ceremony, commented, “I like the program. It teaches them respect, responsibility, and to think for themselves.”
“I absolutely love it,” said Christina Fitzgerald, principal of Joe Walker Middle School. “This is an amazing group of children. Every one of them is a leader. I feel that as a campus, we are very prepared for a disaster.”
Regina Rossall, Superintendant of Westside Union School District added, “These students have truly gone above and beyond. Through their participation in this program, they are breaking the mold of public education and becoming contributors to our community.”
(Information via press release from Westside Union School District.)