Just recently, FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) voted the Mid America program, based out of St. Charles County, runner-up for the 2011 FEMA Individual and Community Preparedness Award in “Outstanding Achievement in Youth Preparedness”
In April 2011, one of the program’s graduates was thrust into the national spotlight after using the skills that she had learned taking the TEEN CERT course in saving an elderly neighbor from a house fire. Last January, the program was described as one of the top three emergency response and preparedness programs in the nation for it’s’ productivity and initiatives in the area of youth preparedness.
Mid America participates in the Red Cross ‘Ready-Rating’
The Mid America program does not qualify for state funding or grants because the program is not associated with any particular city or municipality, but rather trains students around the region in St. Charles, St. Louis, Warren, Jefferson and Lincoln counties in Missouri (as well as Monroe and St. Clair counties in Illinois). That said, the program is free of charge to anyone wanting the training and operates entirely without a budget or funding.
Several years ago, the Boy Scouts of America along with the Department of Homeland Security teamed up to develop an initiative called “Emergency Preparedness BSA” to celebrate BSA’s 100-year anniversary. Council and district executives from Greater St. Louis Area Council requested the assistance of the TEEN CERT program to pilot a more advanced emergency preparedness training program. Mark Rosenblum is the program director for the Mid America TEEN CERT program and he and his team of qualified instructors, along with several firefighters, paramedics, doctors, nurses and other first responders and professionals, presented medical, fire and search expertise, while a crisis counselor who specializes in talking with teens, taught the psychological facet of an emergency to the participants.
The TEEN CERT program is an advanced curriculum-based emergency preparedness program that provides students with a knowledge base on the effects of natural and man-made disasters and their emotional, social, and economic impacts. The curriculum and presentation are based on the national CERT program with adjustments made to reflect more focus on self, family, community and school. It builds decision-making and problem solving skills and strategies to help students make informed decisions regarding readiness, response & recovery and mitigation efforts to reduce loss of life and property.
“The benefits to all parties involved are tremendous,”
The TEEN CERT program that Rosenblum and his team present is a model for other programs and schools around the nation. The popularity of the program has grown to include other counties, districts, faith-based organizations and groups requesting the TEEN CERT course, whether or not the group has teen or adult students participating. “It is the same basic class as adult CERT, however the team portion of the curriculum is stressed and expanded on to allow the students a chance to build trusts and share ideas,” said Rosenblum. “This can also help individual schools with trained TEEN CERT program graduates to determine if they want to incorporate the program into the school’s Emergency Operation Plan (EOP) as a team or simply for individual student’s education.” The program is ready for any school interested in implementing the program. Schools across the nation are adopting TEEN CERT and the Emergency Management Institute recently incorporated TEEN CERT into the toolkit for the G362 Multi-Hazards Emergency Planning for Schools Train-the-Trainer course.
Teens, as well as adults, who go through TEEN CERT training have a better understanding of the potential threats to their home, school and community and can take the right steps to lessen the effects of these hazards on themselves, their families and neighborhood. “If a disaster happens that overwhelms local response capability, TEEN CERT members can apply the training learned in the classroom and during exercises to give critical support to their family and neighbors in their immediate area until help arrives,” says Rosenblum. “When help does arrive” Rosenblum adds, “TEEN CERT members can provide useful information to the responders and support their efforts, as directed, at the disaster site.” On average in a true disaster, it could take anywhere from 72-96 hours before emergency relief arrives, so TEEN CERT would play a vital role in performing triage and passing on very important information to emergency personnel.
“The program is open to anyone 12 years and older, including adults. It is designed around the adult CERT course, but includes a great deal more information and emphasis on team building, trust and emotional health as well as a unit on special needs considerations,”
With the mandatory 22-hours of TEEN CERT training, students learn to manage utilities and put out small fires, and treat the three medical killers by opening airways, controlling bleeding, and treating for shock. TEEN CERT members also learn to provide basic medical aid, search for and rescue victims safely, organize themselves and spontaneous volunteers to be effective, and collect disaster intelligence to support first responder efforts. “Local governments prepare for everyday emergencies,”
“The schedule for our TEEN CERT program is adjustable to fit each group’s busy schedules,” said Rosenblum, “and as far as I know, we are the only team that makes or classes flexible.” The task list associated with the schedule outlines what actions need to be taken in a timeframe conducive to the program’s implementation. The lessons learned are actually additional guidance to support implementation and the students’ survey feedback prove the program’s success and understanding from the students’ perspectives.
For information about the upcoming class in Lincoln County, please contact Lisa Sitler at (636) 528-6117, x405 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also contact Mark Rosenblum at mark.rosenblum@