FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- Ten Fort Jackson teenagers, ages 13-18, participated in a 20-hour Teen Community Emergency Response Team, or CERT, certificate course last week.
CERT was designed to train Americans to help themselves and their communities in the event of a widespread natural disaster. The course teaches basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, search and rescue, team organization and disaster medical operations.
The training prepares teenagers to assist others in their neighborhood or workplace following an event when professional responders are not immediately available to help. Teen CERT members also are encouraged to support emergency response agencies by taking a more active role in emergency preparedness projects in their community.
"The training is important for many reasons," said R.J. Frazier, Fort Jackson's all hazard emergency manager. "The primary concern is for our youth, giving back and providing educational tools for their future. During this session, they earned a training certification on how to support community volunteer efforts during disasters, but more so than anything, a keen insight of self-worth and accomplishment. They departed with a thorough understanding that no matter what profession they choose in life, they can always give back to the community."
Crystle Siegel, 18, said the training achieved that goal. "Many people don't know what to do in the aftermath of a natural disaster. It's great that we -- teens -- are learning how to assist our communities in emergencies," Siegel said.
Tristan Campos, 16, said the training was also fun.
"I didn't really expect to enjoy the training, but, I got a lot of great information, made some new friends, and learned how to help my community in the event of and emergency."
The course was hosted by the Fort Jackson Emergency Management Office, Army Community Services, Operation Military Kids/Clemson University and the American Red Cross.