Rifle High School students prepare for the unexpected
With the help of Rifle Police, Garfield County CSU Extension and Rifle High School 18 students participated in the MyPI National Youth Preparedness Initiative
Students from Rifle High School showed no hesitation running into a simulated disaster Friday at Colorado River Fire Rescue Station 41.
The event organized by the Rifle Police Department, Garfield County CSU Extension, Colorado River Fire Rescue, and Garfield County Emergency Management is part of a state and national program offering training and certification to youth.
Eighteen students took part in the five-week MyPI National Youth Preparedness Initiative program that culminated in Rifle.
MyPI, which stands for My Preparedness initiative, provides a challenging youth preparedness and leadership development opportunity in which teenagers are empowered to take ownership of their preparedness and to assist their families and surround communities with the same.
There are three components, the first trains students in Department of Homeland Security/Federal Emergency Management Agency-certified CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) training and corresponding modules focusing on disaster preparedness, fire safety and utility control, disaster medical operations, light search and rescue, CERT organization, disaster psychology, and terrorism and CERT.
The program also includes certification in first aid, CPR, and AED usage, along with a technology track comprised of awareness programs focusing on HAM Radio, NOAA weather radio, smoke alarm maintenance, and smart phone app and social media in emergency preparedness.
The final element of the program includes a comprehensive family and community service project entitled “Prep + 6” in which each participant helps develop emergency supply kits and emergency communication plans for their family AND 6 additional families in the community.
“I couldn’t be happier of how it turned out. These young men and women were put to the test,” Rifle Police Sgt. and Emergency manager Kirk Wilson said.
The scenario involved multiple victims after a car had collided with a building.
Split into two groups the students used the training that they have been taught over the last five weeks to help assess, treat and remove victims from the scene.
“It was definitely a good experience putting on the skills together that we’ve been learning into a real scenario like this,” Rifle High School senior and group one incident commander Nicholas Heil said.
“I Felt like my team was able to respond very well, and we were really efficient in being able to sweep through the building using the skills we learned with search and rescue.”
Rifle High School junior Karely Salazar said the simulation was pretty intense — and hard.
“I didn’t know what to do at times, but the team really helped. “I think it is important to be prepared for emergencies, and I think this program has helped me be more prepared and trained.”
Wilson found out about the program during a trip to the Colorado Emergency Manager conference in Loveland last year.
“Wade Ingle, the head of the MyPI Colorado program and CSU extension specialist gave a presentation about it and I was very interested in it,” Wilson said.
I love high school stuff, classes, and interaction in education. I saw this as a way of teaching a valuable class and teaching these kids some incredible life saving skills.”
With the skills learned in the class, Wilson said, “They can go out in the community and make the difference, and truly affect the community far better than I as a single emergency manager would ever be able to do.”
Wilson recruited Kaycee Manuppella, the 4-H STEM School Enrichment & After-School Agent with CSU Extension, Garfield County to help out with the program.
“They’ve dedicated six Fridays of their time voluntarily to come and do this,” Manuppella said.
Manuppella and Rifle Police Department School Resource Officer Stephaine Straw both attended CERT and MyPI training and certification in Denver last December.
“I think that it builds their confidence and gives them the ability to respond in any situation, that could be an accident, a disaster, or a traumatic event,” Straw said.
“It also gives them an outlook of different things they can do in their future, opens doors for them.”
As part of the program’s “Prep + 6” the students had to go out in the community and recruit families to sign up and learn about the program from the individual students.
Each students had to educate theirs and six others families the skills and preparedness they had learned over the five week class.
“This model they chose to do, I’m really impressed with their presentation skills and the fortitude to stand there and talk to adults they might not have met before,” Manuppella said.
With the students’s help, the program registered 122 families.
Manuppella said the hope is by the time they are done they will each have seven letters of commitment from families that are agreeing to take on the responsibility of preparing their family.
“I’ve really enjoyed going out into the community and showing people stuff I’ve learned in case of emergencies and giving them stuff to help with it,” Rifle High School junior Venee Kuhns said.
“It was really cool because I was able to teach them what I’ve learned, show them what to do in case of an emergency, and make me feel good.”
Rifle Police Department, Garfield County CSU Extension and Rifle High School are inviting community members and representatives to a graduation ceremony they will host from 9:30-11 a.m., Friday at the Garfield County Fairgrounds.
“Not only are these young people becoming first responders within their own households; they have each educated and helped prepare at least six additional families through training and delivery of a basic preparedness kit,” Manuppella said according to a release. “This group of Rifle High School students has dedicated their own out-of-school time, attending training during the last five Fridays and participating in community outreach events in addition.”
Wilson said the key part to the program is the “Prep + 6”.
“When everything is said and done roughly five percent of the population of our community will have had disaster preparedness training and also have a disaster preparedness kit, which is amazing.”
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