On May 15, 2014, the Wentzville Fire Protection District partnered with the Mid America Teen Community Emergency Response Team (or MATC), after several discussions, planning meetings and calls with local, state and federal emergency management agency officials.
Working with municipalities in and surrounding the District, the Mid America training program will enhance community education and strengthen mutual aid between fire departments, municipalities and organizations should a disaster occur.
There are very few training programs in which volunteers, both teen and adult, are so enthusiastic about taking an emergency response and preparedness course. MATC has crushed the notion that safety education is boring – and currently has a four-year backlog of requests for training.
Mid America TEEN CERT, which is based in Wentzville, has been ranked the number one “emergency preparedness training” and “youth training” program in Missouri for four years in a row, and number two in the nation. Not to be confused with the Wentzville Police Department sponsored adult-only CERT, Wentzville Fire Protection District’s MATC program welcomes both teen and adult students.
The word “TEEN” in the program’s name should not discourage adults to take the training; whereas most “adult” CERT programs will only teach to adults 18 years and older, Mid America has the expanded educational expertise to train both youth and adults. Church groups, school districts, special needs groups, businesses, clubs and other groups and organizations – within the Greater St. Louis Metropolitan Area as well as other cities, counties and states – request the training many months in advance.
The main goal of the MATC program is to help youth and adult citizens learn how to prepare for and respond to others in need, and do so effectively and efficiently without placing themselves or others in unnecessary danger. Students learn to provide basic medical aid, search for and rescue victims safely, manage utilities and put out small fires, organize themselves and spontaneous volunteers to be effective, and collect disaster intelligence to support first responder efforts.
One of the aspects that make MATC unique from other CERT training programs, is that embedded within the standard curriculum, are additional disaster-related topics, such as requirements for several Boy Scout and Girl Scout merit and interest project badges. For example, in addition to a Boy Scout receiving the state-issued TEEN CERT certificate of program completion, they have the opportunity to earn their Emergency Preparedness, First Aid, Fire Safety, Safety, Disabilities Awareness, and Search and Rescue merit badges (the Wilderness Survival merit badge is pending incorporation of requirements)
With the help of paramedics, firefighters, doctors, police officers, crisis counselors, and other qualified instructors and professionals, the program teaches medical, fire safety, search and rescue, and psychology. The specialized training provides students the skills necessary to perform under pressure by developing multi-functional response teams that supplement community emergency services during major disasters.
Even though Mid America TEEN CERT is based in the Greater St. Louis Metropolitan Area, the program travels to any locality where they are requested. Because of the program’s popularity, especially with organized groups and organizations, extra dates need to be set aside early to accommodate classes for the general public. In 2014, MATC has six scheduled classes, with an additional three being planned. In addition to basic training, the program participates in numerous community events and activities, and is the Chartered Organization for Venturing Crew 2633 with the Greater St. Louis Area Council, currently the only active TEEN CERT Crew in the nation.
Additionally, MATC presently has the distinction of being the only preparedness training program in the nation to teach the “Sam, Ready I Am” and “FEMA for Kids” courses for younger learners at the elementary education level.
With more than 750 trained graduates (as of this article), the program is made up entirely of volunteer citizens. Mid America also participates in the Red Cross ‘Ready-Rating’
MATC is open to anyone 12 years and older, including adults. Even though the core program is designed around the national CERT course, Mid America’s program includes a great deal more information and emphasis on team building, trust and emotional health, as well as a unit on assisting people with functional and mobility special needs considerations.
For additional information on upcoming classes or questions, contact the Wentzville Fire Protection District at (636) 332-9869, or Mid America TEEN CERT Program Director, Mark Rosenblum at (314) 680-0791 or mark.rosenblum@