CERT training already paying dividends at the School Without Walls

SWW CERT team at the Public Safety Training Facility

• January 16, 2014

Last month an SUV barreled into a crowd of students at the School Without Walls. Several students were hurt, but it could have been worse if not for quick thinking and acting by students and faculty. According to the article, “The uninjured students sprung [sic] into action and helped their classmates by bringing them into the building, telling authorities and consoling one another.” Teacher Janet Siegel was able to help a student who had a compound fracture in his forearm. She kept him calm while applying direct pressure to the wound in the nurses office while waiting for the paramedics to arrive.

Lisa Burkovich showing how to use the AED (Automated External Defibrillator)

Almost undoubtedly, the quick and effective reactions were partially a result of a new pilot program at SWW. This year for the first time Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training is being offered to students during the school day as part of the curriculum in Mrs. Siegel’s 9 – 12 Science class. One of the students in the class witnessed the accident and pulled her friend out of harm’s way. The student was one of the many who promptly called 911. As Mrs. Siegel is learning along with the class, she was also able to but her knowledge into practice.

RFD Officer teaching Fire Safety and Utility Control

Keishlah Olivera and Yasmin Rossy

As explained to me by Lisa Burkovich, the RCSD Emergency Management & Professional Development Coordinator, “Emergency Preparedness is a top priority across the District. One of the many initiatives that Safety and Security is working hard to accomplish is having a Community Emergency Response (CERT) Team in every building.” Basically, the program educates people about disaster preparedness for hazards that may impact their area, and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations.

Mercedes Smith

Jarrod Mosley with “buddy” Janet Siegel.

The buddy keeps his/her hand on the shoulder of the person with the extinguisher to make sure that the responder stays safe. During an incident, emergency service personnel may not be able to reach everyone right away. By having staff/students trained in CERT, the District will have groups that can assist in response to requests for assistance, participate in drills and exercises and will have the opportunity to take additional training.

Deja Everett and David Rosa

Each CERT graduate will assist in developing and implementing the emergency preparedness and educational outreach programs for their prospective buildings. And as we saw last month at SWW, the program is already paying dividends.

Candace Major and Xabrina Diaz putting out a fire. While Candace extinguishes the fire, Xabrina is making sure that the scene is safe.

As seen in the pictures, on the day I was at SWW the class was practicing extinguishing flames in preparation for a visit to the Public Safety and Training Facility on Scottsville Road. It was bitterly cold but the students were undeterred.

And when the real test came, the CERT crew passed with flying colors.

For more information please contact Lisa.Burkovich@rcsdk12.org