On Tuesday morning, Catherine Robinson’s classroom at Redmond High School (RHS) was filled with students laying on the ground, describing various injuries as other students checked on them.
But this was not the aftermath of a major disaster. This was part of the school’s new Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) class, in which students are learning how to respond to various emergency situations.
“It teaches people to be prepared for disasters,” said Robinson, the course’s instructor, adding that the curriculum is based on the premise that emergency services will not be able to reach them.
This is the first year the class has been offered, although she has been teaching the City of Issaquah’s CERT classes for eight years and has wanted to bring it into the classroom for a while. Robinson said teaching CERT at the school has been great because the students bring an untapped enthusiasm to the table. In addition, she said the class is an extension of the emergency drills they practice at school as it gives students the opportunity to learn some of the things they may need to do after the drills in a real-life situation.
One of the topics the course has covered so far is responding to a mass-injuries situation in which a small group of students tends to the rest of the class, who have been injured in some sort of disaster such as a major earthquake. The students have also learned how to suppress small fires — thanks to a visit from the Redmond Fire Department — and how to perform triage and tag injured individuals based on the level of their injuries.
“It covers a large gamut,” Robinson said.
Senior Sara Long signed up for the class because she knows emergency services may get overwhelmed during a disaster and said she thought it would be good to know what to do “if (she) was called.” And since she has been in the class, she said she has felt more comfortable in her abilities.
“This is real-world medical treatment,” Long said about what they are learning. “And that makes me feel more secure.”
Janey Griffith added that the class has been “a lot more medical than (she) thought it would be,” though this is no problem for the senior, who wants to be a physical trainer. She said it is good for students to get CERT trained because adults may not always have the time to do so and the teens can pass the information they learn on to their families.
Like Griffith, freshman Jake Massey and sophomore Anthony Casanas signed up for the class because they saw it as a way to help them in their future careers. Massey said he has been thinking about becoming a police officer and Casanas has always wanted to be a firefighter since he was little.
“This is just a good start to it,” Massey said about CERT training. He added that as someone with ADHD, the class is very hands on and it works well for him.
Casanas said he also enjoys how involved the class is.
“It’s not a bunch of worksheets,” he said, adding that the class has also solidified his desire to fight fires when he grows up.
Robinson, who also teaches biology and Advanced Placement environmental science at RHS, said CERT is a FEMA course and the school’s program is an extension of the City of Redmond’s program. She said they have also been working with the city on the course, bringing in people from the fire and police departments to talk with students. Other specialists such as a triage nurse and a psychologist are also among the guests that have visited or are scheduled to visit.
In addition to training the students, Robinson said the class is also working with the school’s administration to look at and incorporate what they learn into the school’s emergency plans.