Safely navigating fires, responding to hazardous materials, and assisting light search and rescue operations are just a few notches Troy High School students have added to their emergency preparedness tool belt during a recent training with the Fullerton Fire and Police departments.
From Jan. 3 to Jan. 5, 37 members of the Troy Preparedness Club gathered at the Fullerton Public Library to hear from local experts like Fullerton Emergency Manager Kristi Hofstetter Batiste alongside Fullerton Chief of Fire Adam Loeser and police Chief Jon Radus on a wide range of tactics when responding to an emergency.
After experiencing a potential fire disaster in his family home as a young child, 10th-grader Allen Hsieh started attending Community Emergency Response Team — or CERT — trainings for youth and became inspired to make preparedness more accessible to his classmates. With the support of Troy’s NJROTC instructor, Commander William Lauper, Allen created the Troy Preparedness Club and reached out to local first responders to initiate a training exclusively for Troy high school students.
The three-day workshop adapted the CERT training for young learners by incorporating group activities like video projects and amateur radio modules. Experts within each division presented on topics including disaster psychology, medical operations and team organization.
The national CERT program offers a consistent approach for training and organizing volunteers to best support professional responders during disaster situations, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Students learned about proper fire safety and utilities through hands-on simulations led by battalion Chief Ismail Maturino and the Fullerton Station 3 fire crew while other local experts showed students the basics of first-aid training.
Since the Fullerton Joint Union High School District recently adopted the Incident Command System model for emergency preparedness efforts, Troy Principal Dr. William Mynster said there is an added benefit that students have taken an interest in developing skills that can support their campus community in the event of an emergency.
“Our mission is to train students and equip them with the necessary knowledge and skills so in the case of a disaster, they are not a victim, but a survivor,” Allen said.
Responding in times of need
After hearing from first responders and testing out their new skills in hands-on simulation activities, students said they felt better prepared to help others during a potential disaster.
“Not only did I educate myself on dangerous hazards, I learned how to act quickly and calmly during an emergency,” said 10th-grader Myra Su. “I can use this knowledge to help my family and friends in times of danger, keeping them safe and composed.”
Once the training was complete, each student received a certificate in the Community Emergency Response Team program along with a backpack of survival tools and items for future emergency management work. Trainees who are cadets in the NJROTC program also earned a CERT ribbon for their participation.
“Thank you to our student Allen Hsieh and the other students, and their club advisor, NJROTC instructor Commander William Lauper, for adding another layer of knowledge and preparedness for our Troy family in the event of a disaster,” Principal Mynster said.
The Troy Preparedness Club — counting almost 100 members — plans to host weekend workshops throughout the semester for students and their families, and help 40 more students become certified in emergency response training this summer.
Students interested in getting involved with Community Emergency Response Team programs for youth can learn more at the Teen CERT website.