In response to the wildfire disasters in Lahaina and Kula, Maui 4-H quickly organized a statewide disaster response training – Hawai‘i’s first-ever event tailored specifically for teens.
With 110 high school students from every Hawaiian island gathering at Baldwin H.S. in Wailuku, and a program based on the national Community Emergency Response Team administered by FEMA, it was a rare and valuable opportunity to both train for emergencies and discuss ways to contribute to the long-term disaster recovery process and future disaster planning.
The three-day event was action packed. Hawai‘i youths practiced hands-only CPR and AED training, fire safety and suppression, cribbing (using a temporary structure to support heavy objects to extract trapped survivors), medical triage, light search and rescue, and first aid. They learned about home hazard identification, stress management, and supporting survivors after a disaster.
Before and after tests indicate students improved by 41% in their knowledge of disaster preparedness and response. In recognition of what they learned, they received certificates from event organizer ClimbHI, American Red Cross of Hawai‘i, CTAHR Maui County Extension, and the Maui County Mayor’s office.
“With this exposure to basic CERT training – reinforced by lots of hands-on activities – we hope students will be comfortable enough to be able to apply such skills in real-life situations,” says Nancy Ooki. “We hope they will step up as leaders, be a calm voice, and assist their fellow students and school in an emergency.”
She adds, “We hope students never go through a disaster, but many of the skills they learned will be useful at school or home, just in case.”
Participants came from schools and communities on the Big Island (Kaʻu), Oʻahu (Waianae), Maui (Hāna, Lahaina, Kihei, and Pukalani), Lānaʻi, Molokaʻi, Kauaʻi, and Ni‘ihau.
Additional trainings are planned on O‘ahu and Kaua‘i. For more information, contact Nancy at email@example.com or visit Hawai‘i State 4-H.