NH teens to train for emergency response
Teens will learn emergency protocol, how to be of help and support during time of crisis, from fires to first aid to assistance during natural disaster
By Melanie Hitchcock
The Union Leader
GOFFSTOWN, N.H. — The Goffstown CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) will often kick into high gear in a crisis and assist police and fire departments wherever necessary. Now a younger generation will be trained as well.
The Goffstown Teen CERT, for ages 13-17, will be completely trained in the next few weeks, said Cheryl Paquette, a CERT member in Goffstown and New Boston. Members will be stationed primarily in the schools they attend.
"It's the first Teen CERT in New Hampshire, which is exciting," Paquette said.
Over several weeks of training, the teens will learn emergency protocol and how to be of help and support during a time of crisis, from fires to first aid to assistance during a natural disaster.
Under the direction of school and local emergency responders, Paquette said Teen CERT teams help provide critical support by giving immediate assistance to victims, providing damage assessment information, and organizing other volunteers at a disaster site.
The teen CERT will be trained in many of the same areas adults are trained in, Paquette said, such as fire extinguisher training and safety, medical operations, first aid and basic disaster preparedness.
Susan Jutras, the course instructor, also trains the adults joining the CERT, and said working with the younger group is similar to working with adults.
"It's just the delivery that's different," she said.
Jutras often uses guest speakers to round out the instruction, as was the case in Sunday's class.
Dr. Matt Lewis, DVM, of the Goffstown Animal Hospital, spoke to students about animal restraint and handling, which is a first in the CERT program.
Jutras said that, especially in the cases of natural disasters, many animals are displaced and found by volunteers.
Lewis explained to the group how to pick up an animal properly, and how to approach a stray dog or cat.
"If a dog bares his teeth, go get help — you're done," he told students.
Students had varying reasons why they signed up for the program.
"I wanted to be better prepared in case a disaster came," said Ricky Taylor.
Eric Choquette said he was taking the course to prepare for his emergency preparedness merit badge for Boy Scouts.
"It's been a lot of fun," he said.
One student said the class would help him meet his future goals.
"I want to pursue a career in search and rescue," said David Ricard. "This is really interesting."
The common theme for the class is that the students want to be able to do something to contribute to their community, and be able to help those around them in the event of an emergency.
"I wanted to learn what to do in an emergency," said Leandra Nault, "and be able to get out and do something instead of just sitting around."