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Students complete rigorous training for disaster preparedness

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Eighteen students from the Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig, Pillager, Northland and Walker-Hackensack-Akeley schools completed the final steps of their TEEN Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Training Program, Cass County Sheriff Tom Burch reported.

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The training was supervised by Emergency Management Coordinator Kerry Swenson and concluded with a full-scale search and rescue exercise using the skills students have learned in more than 40 hours of training.

Burch stated this program is the first of its kind in Cass County and is a program

of the Cass County Sheriff's Office.

The curriculum included disaster preparedness, fire safety, disaster medical operations, search and rescue, CERT organization, disaster psychology, terrorism and CPR/AED. The students worked with the Cass County Mounted Posse in locating and treating three victims with varying degree of injuries. They had to assess and treat the victims so they could be prepared for transport by ambulance. The students dealt with life-like injuries that were realistic thanks to the artistic magic of longtime area medical professionals Laurie

Hill and Mona Glassman, the sheriff's department reported.

The CERT program is a national program that was started shortly after the events of Sept. 11, 2001. The CERT program is part of a nationwide effort to engage everyone in America in helping to make their communities safer, more prepared and more resilient when incidents such as natural disasters occur.

The students involved in the program volunteered and were able to complete the rigorous training schedule along with required school and extracurricular activities. The CERT teams will be incorporated into many activities and events happening in and around Cass County. The program is a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) sponsored training that will provide a national certification so it can be used anywhere in the country, if students move out of the area.

In the coming months, an adult program will be started to allow Cass County to build a large volunteer base that can be used during disaster events. The CERT programs will include quarterly continuing education to maintain the edge necessary for effective response in the face of disaster.

The training began in January with the help of many agencies including; Cass County Emergency Management, Walker Fire Department, Remer Fire Department, Cass Lake Fire Department, Pillager Area Fire and Rescue, North Memorial Ambulance Service, Remer Area Ambulance Service, Outing Quick Response, Leech lake Ambulance Service and Cass County Mounted Posse.

To be involved in the next round of training, call the Cass County Emergency Management Office at 218-547-7437.

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