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JHS freshmen learn disaster response

Jamestown High School freshmen now know what it's like to be a responder at a disaster scene. Around 95 freshman students participated in the ninth annual Teen Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) disaster drill in the gymnasium on Thursday. ...

Jamestown High School freshmen assist an "injured" student Thursday during a mock disaster exercise at JHS as part of the Teen Community Emergency Response Team training program. John M. Steiner / The Sun
Jamestown High School freshmen assist an "injured" student Thursday during a mock disaster exercise at JHS as part of the Teen Community Emergency Response Team training program. John M. Steiner / The Sun

Jamestown High School freshmen now know what it's like to be a responder at a disaster scene.

Around 95 freshman students participated in the ninth annual Teen Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) disaster drill in the gymnasium on Thursday. The students were certified as teen CERT community emergency responders by Stutsman County Emergency Management.

"They've learned basic first aid, fire and rescue, search and rescue, how to triage patients and mass care," said Kim Franklin, assistant county emergency manager. "They've learned about our American Red Cross and other volunteer agencies and they've also learned a little bit about terrorism and how to detect it and stay safe."

The six-week training included staff from Jamestown Fire Department, Stutsman County Sheriff's Office and the American Red Cross Dakotas Region, she said. Jamestown does not have a CERT team but the high school class is designed to help students prepare to handle emergencies, she said.

Emergencies can happen anywhere, and the class is about staying safe and assisting others in at homes or in the neighborhood before responders arrive, Franklin said. Disaster psychology training helps to understand how chaos and hysteria affect victims and responders and how to work through it, she said.

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JHS physical education and health teachers Cheryl Sunderland and Andrew Fitzgerald teach the freshman CERT class.

"I'm pretty proud of this program," Sunderland said.

The freshman students wore gear provided by the Red Cross and responded to the "victims" of a simulated disaster involving collapsed bleachers. The students moved the victims to safety and provided first aid to their "wounds."

The freshman students said their training came back to them even in the chaos of the exercise. They worked in small groups to communicate more effectively.

"It was kind of nerve racking but once I got used to it it went fine," said Megan Witcraft.

Dalton Pecka said he realized how important it is to learn how to move an injured person properly when evacuating the person from a disaster scene to a safer place. Then it became an issue of prioritizing the injured in a triage setting, he said.

Upperclassmen from the JHS drama department put on special effects makeup to create a grisly scene bleacher disaster scene. The victims had simulated broken bones, deep abrasions and hysteria.

"This is not necessarily to copy the trauma of a real event but to give the freshmen a sense of 'Hey, here is the sense of panic and here's how I've handled this sense of panic,'" said Anthony McIntyre, JHS drama teacher. "They're thinking, 'I've got to remember what I need to do from my training.'"

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The drama students have already been through the CERT training, he said. They enjoyed acting the victim and making the experience as scary and real as possible for the freshmen, he said.

Jessica Schmitz, junior drama student, said she doesn't like the sight of blood. The training was difficult but the experience helped her deal with her anxieties, she said.

"You never think it's going to be you in that situation," Schmitz said. "So to be forced into that situation and having to deal with it in a professional way is very eye opening and I think it's a good learning experience."

Jamestown High School freshmen assist an "injured" student Thursday during a mock disaster exercise at JHS as part of the Teen Community Emergency Response Team training program. John M. Steiner / The Sun
Jamestown High School freshmen assist an "injured" student Thursday during a mock disaster exercise at JHS as part of the Teen Community Emergency Response Team training program. John M. Steiner / The Sun

Related Topics: JAMESTOWN HIGH SCHOOL
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