C.E.R.T. Program at Quitman

Quitman School District has joined forces with Clarke County Emergency Management Director Eddie Ivy by bringing the C.E.R.T. program in for students to have an opportunity to complete. The program helps to prepare for different disasters that could occur and how to handle the disasters. The course takes 20 hours to complete and is free to the students who volunteer to take it.

“It’s not something that’s going to cost them anything but their time, and it’s something they can add to their resume. When they apply for jobs, it’s something that’ll stand out,” said Mrs. Owens. “Also, it shows community service and community involvement, and when they apply for scholarships, they are looking for well-rounded students.”

Students learn different skills, such as fire suppression using an extinguisher, controlling utilities in a disaster, performing disaster medical operations like first aid, creating medical treatment areas, doing light search and rescue, sorting injured patients, lifting and moving debris, handing the situation over to the local emergency service, and learning about the psychological impact that the disasters have on both the patient and responder and how to handle it.

Although the program was only offered to the Health Science classes the first time, “This year we’re going to expand it to also cover Law and Public Safety, because it is part of their curriculum too,” stated Ms. Owen.

The students had requested the course to Mrs. Owens so that they may be able to compete in it for HOSA. Mrs. Owens did what she could and contacted Mr. Eddie Ivy to try and get everything started up.

“They compete,” said Eddie Ivy. “That’s one of the competitive events, and in order to compete you have to finish the training.”

The first class had 12 students gain their certification through the program. Some of those students did go and compete in the in the HOSA Competition in C.E.R.T. for the first time. Antonio Wallace and Boneshia Gordon both made it to the district and state level, and Edward McNail and Shakeeb Anderson managed to make it to the international level using the skills they gained through the course.

The goal of the program is not only for competition purposes. A greater goal is for the ones to complete the course to be able to use their skills in their homes, communities, and schools.

“If something were to happen at the school, we’ve got 10-12 people that can make a difference,” stated Mr. Ivy. “Whether it’s a tornado or active shooter, they know how to control bleeding.”

The course itself has different modules and hands-on activities to practice the skills taught in each module. Students have already learned how to fight a fire using a fire extinguisher so far this year. The students are also placed in small groups and given a topic that they will have to create a project for and present to the class later on. The program ends with a final simulation for students to put their skills to the test. The final simulation for the first group was held in the First Baptist gym and was set up to look like the aftermath of a tornado. People were hiding amongst the debris “injured” and calling out for help, and the students had to go in the dark to find, sort, and help the different patients.

While the school and community can definitely see the value of such a great course, the ones who complete the course can see its worth the most.

“I think CERT is a great program that all students should participate in. This program has helped me gain a lot of awareness along with other life skills, such as thinking before I act and working well with others,” said Eternity Alford. “This program offers students a lot of experience and skills within their scope of practice to help anyone in need, whether it be in the community or at school. In this program you will learn everyday safety tips to keep you prepared for anything; you will participate in skills to prepare you for situations in case of emergency.”