Bartow, Fla. (March 5, 2019) — Polk County Fire Rescue (PCFR) in partnership with the Polk County Public School Board has held its first set of Teen CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) certification classes with great success and interest from students.
Already the host of a well-established and continuously growing adult CERT program, PCFR began to test the waters with its inaugural Teen CERT pilot program in early October at Bartow High School. This first class, which was hosted in conjunction with the school’s HOSA (Health Occupations Students of America) program, was rapidly filled over its seating capacity, with well over 50 students expressing interest in becoming certified Teen CERT members.
Lake Gibson High School was the second area school to host a Teen CERT program. The same high level of interest was shown once again with well over 50 students signing up, who were eager to learn how they could be prepared to assist their community in a time of need. Both of the pilot groups were so eager to become a part of this program that they attended Teen CERT certification classes on a pair of holiday weekends where most students would much rather be off enjoying the perfect Florida weather.
FEMA’s (Federal Emergency Management Agency) CERT program trains everyday citizen volunteers to respond during disasters and provide help until professional responders are able to arrive. Members complete an initial basic training course and then participate in ongoing advanced training to maintain and enhance their skills. Serving a vital role in disaster response, they are then able to be activated for various events within the community.
Teen CERT seeks to further expand these skill sets to young adults adding another level of natural disaster response. With a 20 hour curriculum to complete the training, the students will learn how to extinguish small fires, conduct light search and rescue, assists those who are injured, set up medical treatment areas, assist emergency responders and help reduce survivor stress.
Moving forward Polk County Fire Rescue’s administration has given the program the ok to advance this from a pilot program to a fulltime program, and Polk County Fire Rescue’s CERT director hopes to add an additional two schools per year. Currently, several other area schools have shown great interest in bringing the new program to their students.
Chris Jonckheer, Communications Specialist
Office: (863) 534-6787
Cell: (863) 232-7357