Smithsburg students get lessons in emergency preparedness

February 19, 2007|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

SMITHSBURG - Calvin Andrukat has two younger sisters, and he said it was important for him to learn basic first aid and emergency preparedness.

"I figured it would help me with them ... in case," the Smithsburg High School junior said.

He was one of about 14 students from the school who participated in three days of Community Emergency Response Team training that concluded Sunday. The students met at Smithsburg Volunteer Fire Co., where they were joined by three Boys Scouts of America from Troop 136 in Halfway.

The training marked the first time in Maryland that a high school organization partnered with county emergency management officials to provide CERT training, officials said.

The youth worked with Washington County Division of Fire & Emergency Services professionals preparing for a disaster in their school and community. The class included training in fire suppression, basic first aid, light search and rescue, emergency preparedness and terrorism awareness.


"When you call 911, there is a certain amount of time when you will be on your own," said Verna Brown, the county's emergency management coordinator.

She said more than 700 area residents have been trained since the CERT program began five years ago. The Smithsburg students joined that group after senior Erika Jeter took the idea to National Honor Society advisers.

Erika interned with Brown and Emergency Services last summer and said she saw firsthand how important the training was.

"What if we're at school and (something) happens, or we're home during a disaster," she said. "You really get training you can use. Even basic first aid will help you be more prepared."

Her advisers and Smithsburg High School teachers Lindsey Darr and Brenda Horning said they thought it would be good training for National Honor Society students, who are considered among the school's leaders.

"If there is an emergency at school, it would be beneficial to have some students who are trained to help teachers with basic first aid and (disaster) management," Darr said.

Atlee Baker, a Smithsburg High School senior, said he had taken the CERT training before with an Eagle Scouts group, but said he learned a lot his second time around.

"On the rare chance something does happen, you can help (with this training)," Atlee said.

Brown, who said a number of Washington County Public Schools teachers, administrators and support staff have been trained in emergency preparedness, was glad to see students dedicate their weekend to the training.

Jayna Harshman, a Smithsburg High School senior, said the search-and-rescue exercise Sunday was challenging. She said she and other team members had to find people who had been injured in a disaster, help them up the stairs and assess their injuries.

"Emergency preparedness is everyone's responsibility, so these students can use their knowledge and training in situations that may happen at school, home and elsewhere," she said. "Also, Smithsburg High will be an example to other schools in the state to take the initiative to train and be ready when emergencies arise."

CERT is a class designed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency as a result of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Anyone or any organization interested in participating in future classes may contact emergency services officials at 240-313-2930.

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