Skills Put to Test as Local Teens Put Out Fires, Practice Triage

HOUSTON – Instead of spending afternoons surfing the Web or watching the tube, many area Houston high school students join Teen CERT-the Community Emergency Response Team. They learn to save lives during disaster situations, including emergencies on campus.

Teens travel from their respective school districts after school for eight weeks to train with Harris County Department of Education’s Center for Safe and Secure Schools through a collaborative with the Harris County Citizens Corp. During the past three years, about 2,000 students have been trained.

Students gather for a final exam exercise at the Harris County Citizen Corps CERT Round Up, where they join hundreds of adults demonstrating skills in hands-on tests with basic medical operations, search and rescues, fire suppression, incident command and essential emergency preparedness skills.

Grant funding paid for the training in the past. New funding sources are currently being sought to pay for student transportation, training materials and stipends for the high school trainers. This spring the Center for Safe and Secure Schools anticipates trains students from Aldine, Alief, Cypress-Fairbanks, Dickinson, Galena Park, Klein, La Porte, Pearland, Stafford, Waller, Katy and Houston Independent School District.

Teen CERT members learn to be first responders. As first at the scene of a disaster like a fire or medical emergency, students may act as critical community supporters to provide assistance to victims; organize spontaneous volunteers at disaster sites; or help with non-emergency projects that improve community and school safety. Training includes light search and rescue, disaster psychology, terrorism, 911 communications, hazardous materials and responder roles. Specifically, students learn basic first aid skills.

“Teen CERT also helps students develop critical thinking skills as they take on real-world issues,” said Rosie Flores, Teen CERT coordinator for the Center for Safe and Secure Schools. “They gain an opportunity to give back to the community, and in doing so, develop a sense of confidence and pride.”


Harris County Department of Education Feb. 7 press release

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