Select Copperas Cove high school students successfully completed the Certified Emergency Response Training course at the Texas Safety Youth Preparedness Center hosted by Texas State University.
The students were picked out of nearly 3,000 in the district. The main goal of the camp was to teach students how to assist first responders in an array of emergency or natural disaster situations.
A life-threatening situation can happen in the blink of an eye but knowing how to react, can save lives. Elise Fuselier attended the conference alongside seven of her classmates. While she does not have plans on becoming a first responder, the skills she learned at the CERT camp are transferable.
"There’s a lot of things that happen that are out of our control, and it causes a lot of chaos and I feel like it’s necessary to know how to be able to respond in that situation," said Fuselier. "With everything that happens in school today I want to be a teacher and those skills can help."
Learning how to conduct grid searches for missing people, wildfire prevention, and basic natural disaster response are all tools Fuselier said she now has in her back pocket.
"Bleeding is definitely one of the things that’s very important so learning how to do a tourniquet is very necessary," Fuselier said.
The group also learned how to interact with people who have experienced trauma. While these are just a basic set of skills, local first responders said they can be a huge help.
"A lot of times people do not get involved because they don’t know what to do ... so they stand in the watch," Deputy Fire Chief Gary Young with the Copperas Cove Fire Department said. "Having someone who has an understanding, even if it's just a basic level of understanding, is always better than someone with none."
The group of students and their counselors who accompanied them are armed with an official CERT backpack that has all the essentials including band-aids, gauze, gloves, protective shields, and a flashlight among other things.
"With a small community or large community time is critical," Lt. Krystal Baker with the Copperas Cove Police Department said. "Anything we can do to help first responders before we get on scene is beneficial."
"Everything that they were taught they went out and implemented and put it into action," said Yoshenobia Harris, one of the counselors who attended.
Harris and her students are ready and willing to help the community they serve.
When school gets back in session, Harris said she will be trying to connect with local first responders to see how the students can hit the ground running and help when they are needed.
"They are there to assist the fireman, the policeman, and anyone in an emergency situation. They can use this every day, anywhere where an emergency happens, these students will be prepared to go in and do what they were trained to do," Harris said.